Guidlines to sale expiry-dated products as an FBA user

Those that use Amazon FBA service will know that this option involves your inventory being stored in Amazon’s fulfilment centres. This presents a huge issue to some brands though, namely those whose inventory is made up of expiry-dated products.

What is classed as an expiry-dated product in the eyes of Amazon?

When we say expiry-dated products, we are not just talking about milk and yoghurt. In fact, Amazon considers ANY products with a shelf life, or those that lose effectiveness or potency over time to be an ‘expiry dated product’. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Any product with an expiry date printed on the product or its packaging.
  • Consumable products, such as tea leaves and nutritional supplements, for human or animal consumption.
  • Topical products, such as skin creams, soaps, shampoos, hair sprays and cosmetics, that are intended for human or animal use.
  • Cleaning products, such as disinfectant wipes, cleaning sprays and solutions and detergents.
  • Products that include components that can expire, such as a coffee machine that is sold bundled with coffee.
  • Any product with a period-after-opening (PAO) symbol as seen on cosmetics.

If your stock meets this criteria and you use Amazon’s FBA there are a few extra rules that you must follow:

  • All expiration-dated products must have the expiration date printed in a font that is 36 or larger. All case packs, multi-packs, and display boxes must have the expiration date on the box or bundle, as well as on each individual item inside the box or bundle.
  • Expiration dates must be displayed in the format MM-DD-YYYY or MM-YYYY.
  • You can ship multiple ASINs in the same box as long as each ASIN has only one expiration date. If there are multiple expiration dates for the same ASIN, the products with different expiration dates must be shipped in separate boxes.
  • Any units that are within 50 days of the expiration date will be removed for disposal by Amazon and will not be returned to the seller.
  • Food & beverages must have a minimum remaining shelf life that is greater than 90 days.
  • Health and Beauty products with a PAO symbol are marked to expire 900 days after the date that it is processed at the fulfilment centre.
  • At the time of check-in at the fulfilment centre, all products must have a remaining shelf life that allows sufficient time for the product to be consumed in full plus an additional 90 days.
  • When labelling sellers must not conceal the original expiry date or other information on the product packaging (such as ingredients, drug facts, net contents or distributor information).

What do sellers with expiry-dated products in their inventory need to know before using FBA?

Your products’ expiry dates

It is vital that sellers review Amazon’s policies for expiry-dated products in full to understand their rules regarding expiry dates. Below are the Amazon given minimum arrival time to the fulfilment centre before product expiry for a range of example product types. 

If you fail to follow these policies you could see yourself getting a lot of negative reviews from angry customers with out-of-date products, stock write-offs and if the issues are continuous, Amazon will stop selling your products altogether.

Shipping times

It is always best to overestimate the shelf life left on a product to give a bigger buffer, allowing for travel. Fulfilment centres can be very strict and if they cannot easily determine whether your stock is within the specified expiry time frame, they won’t accept it.

Work out your expiry dates, plus the 90 days and then your longest shipping time on top of that. This is what you should aim for when planning the delivery of your expiry-dated stock to Amazon.

Average amount sold

Amazon sellers need to know on average how many of each unit is typically sold within a time period. This will allow for correct amounts of inventory to be sent to Amazon without the risk of excess stock ‘going off’ when they are not sold. If your products are close to the specified expiration date, Amazon will automatically dispose of them causing you to lose some of your stock. By working out an average amount sold you can avoid this wastage and loss of money.

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