Commingled vs Amazon Barcodes, Amazon Oregon Prep Center

You may have heard that some prep centers, including ourselves, do not work with commingled products. You may have no idea why that is. Afterall, isn’t it easier to work with them, as you do not even need to apply a label to each item? 

Why is it preferred to use an FNSKU (Amazon Barcode) over ASINs when working with a prep center?

First, let’s define the terms we are using:

FNSKU label: An FNSKU is not only item specific, but seller specific. This label ties the item directly to your seller account. Therefore, preparing the units for Amazon involves applying an FNSKU label to the item, which Amazon will scan upon receiving.
ASIN: An ASIN is item specific, and is not tied to your account. It is the equivalent of a UPC. When preparing a commingled item, it does not need a label, unless of course your item doesn’t have a scannable UPC barcode. In that case, you may label it with an ASIN barcode instead. 
Commingled: A commingled item is an item that is identified by the ASIN or UPC, and does not have an FNSKU. 

When your item is commingled, meaning identified by the UPC or ASIN, your items are put into a community bin at Amazon. This means that when someone orders that item from your shop, Amazon pulls from the top/front of the bin. Therefore, this is not necessarily your item, but an identical item prepped by another person or prep center. If this item was not prepped with care, or the item is mislabeled, and your end customer is unhappy, there is almost no way to know if they received “your” item or not. So it is hard to know if your prep center mishandled the item, or if someone else did. 

Because of the risks associated with commingled products, we no longer accept them at our facility. We take pride in how we handle your products, and when we make mistakes, we fix them. But with commingled items, it cannot be proven that we handled that specific item. 

We recommend that when you create your listings, you choose “Amazon Label” (FNSKU) even if you will be preparing your own products. That way, if you get feedback or a review, good or bad, you will be certain this was your product.

What should you do if your customers complain they received the wrong variation of an item?

Note: This tip only applies to items with an FNSKU, and will not help with commingled items – yet another reason why using Amazon Labels is to your benefit🙂

If your customers complain that they received the wrong variation of an item, you should request that Amazon do a “bin check” for all variations of that product, and also request that Amazon provide photos. When you receive the photos, review the products to determine if they are labeled with the correct FNSKU. If they are not, you may be able to determine whether they were labeled by you (or your prep center), or mistakenly re-labeled by Amazon themselves. This has happened, and if you are able to prove it, then Amazon will rectify the situation. 

If you have any questions about commingled items, or any part of the process of selling on Amazon, feel free to fill out our contact us form, or call us!

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