This week, we’re exploring an issue that has been, and continues to be, a huge issue for many sellers: glass containers. Over the years, Amazon has tightened their restrictions on glass products. These days, as you probably already know, the criteria are as follows:
Liquids over 4 oz. cannot be sold in glass containers through their FBA program by Sellers
Given the importance of FBA to so many buyers, this puts tons of manufacturers into an awkward situation. While it seems it is still possible for certain Registered Brands to use Frustration Free Packaging to skirt around this issue, most smaller to midsized brands just haven’t got a chance to push for it as the program has been closed to new users.
So, what is there to do?
Well, some brands pull from Amazon altogether. This is a shame and should be a last resort, given the far reach of this market. Another is to sell through Amazon yourself, and pack and ship your orders yourself and forgo the convenience of FBA. This is incredibly time consuming, and doesn’t always solve the problem of breakages.
The third option, which a few of our own clients have opted for, is a complete or partial switch to plastic. Now, we know this is controversial, given the environmental factors of plastic containers. For the sake of this particular blog post, we’re just going to talk about some of the upsides of plastic. Maybe, just maybe, plastic isn't the devil? Just know that we are well aware of environmental side of things and that for many this remains a deal breaker.
- Lower weight can mean lower fulfillment costs
Given how heavy glass containers are, you’re probably paying at least something for that extra weight. Whether it is in the process of shipping from your warehouse to Amazon’s, or from Amazon to the customer, you may well shave a few pennies off here and there. And, as you know, little savings can definitely add up.
- Many fewer breakages
This is obviously why Amazon has the rules they do. Given that they are a massive company that wants to continue to keep their excellent reputation, any breakages are a liability to their brand, and costs them some serious bucks. Beyond this though, fewer breakages are also a benefit to your brand, since some of them are bound to happen at times when no reimbursement is possible. And, beyond lost money, a pattern of broken items means wasted product and unhappy customers too.
- Fulfillment by Amazon is a lot easier
While there may be ways to skirt around the 4 oz. rule for a while, it’s always going to require jumping through a lot of hoops when it comes to process and to Amazon. Once you’ve made the switch over to plastic, you’ll probably spend a lot less time and energy trying to make things work in the FBA system… although, we can’t promise you won’t continue to have issues with Amazon’s maze-like backend.
- Save on Shipping Materials
Once you move away from fragile glass containers, you can finally scrap the bubble wrap. Just like the weight factor, it’s an “every penny helps” situation. And, while it may not completely outweigh the carbon footprint of your plastic container, you will also be using less packaging in the overall shipment process.
We’ve had a number of clients who have faced the glass issue over the years. While some have unfortunately been forced to withdraw their product from Amazon, we’ve had others who have settled on the plastic solution. In particular, The New Primal is working towards switching, though they definitely have misgivings about environmental impacts.
“With Amazon rules it’s a matter of doing business with them, you play by their rules,” explained Ashley Zager, Director of Operations. “We won’t sacrifice our own standards in sourcing quality products and supplies, so it creates a new learning opportunity on how to source plastic, and how to do it right.”
And in the case of The New Primal, they’re opting to go a middle route by continuing to manufactur brick and mortar products in glass.
“We won’t be switching our entire line, but offering plastic online. We will still use glass bottles for the majority of our accounts.”
So, if you do go the plastic route, there are ways to continue to follow your brand’s philosophy AND meet Amazon’s tough restrictions. Of course, as is so often the case, it may require some amount of compromise. If you have any questions or insights about glass and plastic products, we’d love to hear from you. We spend tons of time thinking about solutions and are always willing to learn and to share.