You already know that Cliff and I are big believers in using retail arbitrage to grow an Amazon FBA business. But there’s one thing about it that still makes me flustered.
You’re at a store and you find a great item with a nice Buy Box price and only a few other sellers. Your eyes light up as you make a test buy, take them home, ship them off to Amazon, and wait for the sales to roll in.
Except….hm, none of them are selling. You head over to Amazon and notice that the Buy Box price has been cut in half and suddenly Keepa shows 50 sellers on your “secret” RA find. Blergh.
Am I the only one or has this ever happened to you?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could own the buy box and not have to worry about dozens of other sellers hopping on a listing?
Well, if you learn how to create bundles on Amazon, you can eliminate the competition, set your price, and offer customers a product they’ll absolutely love.
Of course, you can’t just throw some random items together, call it a bundle, and expect it to sell. So I’m going to show you how to create profitable bundles that Amazon customers are dying to buy.
WHAT ARE AMAZON BUNDLES?
According to Amazon’s guidelines, a bundle consists of “multiple single items that can each be identified by a unique ASIN/UPC and are sold together as a single offering.”
They go on to elaborate that “Bundles must consist of items that are highly complementary (this means items in the bundle enable or enhance the use of other items in the bundle or provide convenience to the buyer by purchasing them together).”
That last part in bold is key when thinking about bundles. You can’t just pick two items you like and call them a bundle. Creating a successful bundle on Amazon requires a lot of thought and planning, but the results are worth it!
HOW WE CREATED OUR FIRST AMAZON BUNDLE
Several years ago we got an amazing offer to buy some Burt’s Bees liquidation stock. These items were ranked under 3,000 in the Health & Personal Care category. Amazon was selling them but I still thought they would sell quickly at that rank. We paid $5 for each unit and they were selling for between $15-$22 each.
I sent in a limited quantity of each item right away. I quickly realized that competing with Amazon was a time consuming and frustrating task when you are talking about hundreds of units. They were not selling nearly as fast as I thought they would when I made the original purchase.
So instead of dropping my price and entering a price war with Amazon, I decided to try a new approach. I made a bundle of my Burt’s Bees products.
Something that tipped me off to this opportunity was the “Frequently Bought Together” box that was showing up on my listing.
This told me that the products were being purchased by the same customers. So, why not save them 3 steps and give it to them all in one listing?
I pulled up the listing and it is still live today ? (Although it’s a little embarrassing when I look at it!)
I didn’t have all of the tools I know about now for creating listings, so the picture is not very high quality at all. But, you know what? It sold like hot cakes.
And do you know why it worked so well? I had 3 things going for me. The items were extremely popular, already selling together on Amazon, and I was able to provide a discount compared to purchasing them all separately.
Here is the listing for the bundle (don’t laugh at it, ok?)
And for the customer, the items were complementary, worked well as a set, and were easy to buy in one-click (just like Amazon wants!).
BUNDLES VS MULTI-PACKS
I want to take a minute to clear up a common misunderstanding about bundling. You can’t “bundle” two (or more) of the same item.
Amazon has an entirely separate name for this and that’s “multi-pack”.
A lot of sellers mistakenly use the two terms interchangeably and that can cause some confusion. (Ok, I am personally guilty of calling multi-packs “bundles” myself!)
So just as a quick reminder:
- Bundle: Multiple single items (Pantene Shampoo + Pantene Conditioner)
- Multi-Pack: Multiple quantities of the same item (2 bottles of Pantene Shampoo)
WHY YOU SHOULD BUNDLE
Since bundles take a little extra time and energy, you’re probably wondering “what’s in it for me?” There are many good reasons to create unique bundles. Bundles typically benefit both the buyer and the seller, so it’s a real win-win!
OWN THE BUY BOX
Let’s face it, this is the main reason most sellers start making Amazon bundles. If you’re out sourcing at the same stores as everybody else, you’ll inevitably run up against some buy box competition. And while sharing the buy box guarantees you a portion of the sales, it’s never fun when the price starts to drop.
Sometimes, even with a really popular item, you might find that you’re not selling through your inventory as fast as you’d like.
When you make unique bundles, you essentially guarantee your spot in the buy box. That’s because for any other seller to sell on your listing, they would have to have all of the same items and packaging as you.
Many sellers are simply too lazy to take the extra steps and that leaves you all alone in the buy box (snagging 100% of the sales).
CLEAR OUT SLOWER MOVING INVENTORY
Let’s say you’ve got a cake mix that’s selling like hot cakes (or like cupcakes, maybe) but a jar of frosting that’s climbing up in sales rank.
By bundling the items together (and maybe some festive packaging) you can sell through your frosting inventory.
If you’ve been selling for a while, you probably noticed that it doesn’t make financial sense to sell low priced items through Amazon FBA.
That’s because some of the FBA fulfillment fees are fixed and they come out of your selling price whether that’s $7 or $70.
Bundles are a great way to package up several lower-priced items and actually turn a profit. Because the FBA fee is only deducted from one item (your bundle) instead of each individual item, you will be able to make higher margins.
Let’s take a look at this back-to-school bundle of locker accessories.
Assume that you can get each of these pieces for $3.00, which makes the total cost of your bundle $9.00. At the current buy box price of $25.99, that leaves you with a total profit of $6.70 after fees – not bad!
Now say you were just selling the locker shelf and you decide to list it at $9.99. In this scenario, you actually lose $0.20. Yikes!
Not only is that bad for you, but it requires your customer to buy all three items separately for $9.99 each. With a bundle, they save $4 and you make more money. Cool!
SOLVE A CUSTOMER PROBLEM
Ok, so giving a customer a discount is already solving one problem. But if you create smart, thoughtful bundles, you can really make a customer’s life easier. And that will make your offer stand out from the crowd.
Let’s say that, like a lot of people, you’ve decided to pick up a healthy new habit for the new year. You join the swanky yoga studio up the street and you’re determined to go twice a week!
You head to Amazon to get a yoga mat because you’re not convinced that you want to borrow one from the studio (let’s face it, they get sweaty!). While looking at yoga mats, you come across this listing:
Bingo. The mat alone costs $20.49, so getting all this for $37.99 seems like a no-brainer!
And what you don’t know yet as a new yogi is that the blocks and strap will help you get into all those crazy yoga poses more safely. Plus those two towels will come in handy during your first 103-degree yoga class!
The creator of this bundle has offered real value to the buyer. Not only is the price discounted, but the new yoga student now has everything they need for a successful first trip to the studio.
IMPORTANT RULES FOR AMAZON BUNDLES
Before you create your first bundle, you need to understand the rules of Amazon’s Product Bundling Policy. You can read all of the rules here (make sure you’re logged in to Seller Central), but let’s go ahead and take a look at a few of the more important rules.
SPECIFIC RULES ABOUT BOOKS, MOVIES, AND VIDEO GAMES
You cannot make a bundle of just items in the books, movies, and video games categories. You can include one of these items in a bundle, but it can’t be the primary item. Amazon gives the example of bundling a yoga mat (the primary item) with a yoga book and yoga DVD.
PICK THE RIGHT CATEGORY
Your bundle can only be listed in one category, even if the products in it are from multiple categories. Pick the category of the highest-priced item when you create your listing.
UPCS AND PRODUCT IDENTIFIERS
This is a big one that trips up a lot of wannabe bundlers. Per Amazon, “The bundle must have its own standard product identifier or manufacturer part number. The identifier of any individual product in the bundle may not serve as the identifier for the bundle. Using a UPC from any single product in the bundle to identify the entire bundle may lead to immediate removal of the listing. You are responsible for obtaining a UPC for each bundle you create.”
You might find old articles out there about buying UPC codes off of eBay. And while that used to work for some sellers, that is no longer recommended.
In most cases, you will be eligible to apply for a GTIN (UPC) Exemption from Amazon for your bundle. You can read Amazon’s criteria for GTIN exemption and follow the steps to apply.
BRANDS AND GENERICS
Don’t include generic (completely unbranded) products in your bundle. Amazon doesn’t want you to mislead customers into thinking that a generic product belongs to the same brand as one of the branded items in your bundle.
Speaking of brands, your bundle can have items that are different brands. Like with category selection, use the highest-priced item to dictate how you brand your bundle.
A BUNDLE IS FOREVER!
That’s right. Once you create a bundle, you can’t ever change the items that are in it. If you want to add or remove something from your bundle, you’ll need to create an entirely new bundle.
BUNDLE TITLES, BULLETS, AND IMAGES
Amazon has strict guidelines about what must be included in the title and product feature bullets for bundles. The main one you need to know is that the title must include the word “Bundle”.
Amazon also asks that the title include the number of items or a full list of each item. The first feature bullet also needs to include the total number of items in your bundle.
I know that some of you have never made a new product listing before. If you need help creating your own product pages, you should grab the Amazon Advantage eBook by Karon Thackston. (You can even get 30% off the Amazon Advantage coupon code JESSICA30).
Karon’s guide will get you up to speed on the essentials of copywriting, keyword research, and everything else you need to know to create product pages that customers can actually find! Plus, if you ever branch out into private label (or even if you need to create a listing for a new RA item), you’ll have all the tools you need!
HOW TO PACKAGE BUNDLES
When sending bundles to a fulfillment center for Amazon FBA, your items will need to all be packaged together. If you send the items separately, Amazon won’t know what to do with them!
Depending on the size, shape, and quantity of the items in your bundle, it might make sense for you to put them all in a plain box or poly bag. If you’re doing something more decorative like a gift basket, you could cover it with stretch wrap or shrink wrap.
On the outside of your packaging, you’ll need to affix two stickers:
- Your FNSKU label that will be scanned at the fulfillment center (the same sticker that would typically cover a barcode on regular RA items)
- A sticker that says “Do Not Separate” so that the warehouse associates won’t try to separate your carefully packed bundle
For more information about the tools that I use to make bundles plus step-by-step packaging instructions, check out these videos I recorded about how to package bundles (and multi-packs) for Amazon FBA.
CREATE AMAZON BUNDLES THAT CUSTOMERS ACTUALLY WANT TO BUY
If you’ve done any of our trainings, you know that we recommend sticking to certain product rank guidelines to make sure that your products actually sell.
So how can you make sure that your brand new bundle will sell well on Amazon?
STUDY YOUR FAST MOVING ITEMS
This is how we knew that our Burt’s Bees bundle would sell. The bundle itself had no rank (we created the listing after all), but the individual items were low ranked and selling really well. That gave us confidence that our bundle would also be popular.
Look at the listing pages for your low ranked items (or just browse the best sellers on Amazon) and see if they have a “Frequently Bought Together” box. You can also check for the section called “Customers who bought this item also bought” to research other popular products related to your primary item.
CREATE A BUNDLE LISTING THAT SERVES THE CUSTOMER
Having a great product page can make or break your bundle. And for a truly outstanding bundle product page, think about the needs of your customer.
Let’s look at a good bundle listing and a listing gone wrong for a popular shopping occasion: Valentine’s Day.
First up, the good. Here is a bundle for a home manicure kit for Valentine’s Day. It contains complementary items (nail clippers, nail file, nail brush, soap, hand cream, and spa gloves) and it comes in a nice container.
Now here’s a take on a home manicure Valentine’s Day bundle that didn’t go so well. (Don’t even get me started on its claim to be the “Best” Valentine Day Gift!)
Aside from this bundle being 2 of the same item (hello, multi-pack) they threw in a totally random item! Silly Bands. If you get a gift from your loved one, are you hoping for a bonus pack of SILLY BANDS? Heck, I don’t even want two sets of the same thing…sigh.
What can you learn from this bungled bundle?
- Let Amazon guide you: complementary items work best
- Two if the same item is not a bundle!
- The items should enhance each other (how on earth do Silly Bands enhance a manicure or your Valentine’s Day experience?!)
- Sometimes, looks matter. Remember the nice gift basket in the first listing? I assume that these two manicure sets (+ silly bands!) will just arrive in a poly bag.
As long as you create bundles that are really adding value, your listings will stand out from the competition and get more sales.
A LITTLE WORK FOR BIG RESULTS
At this point, some of you might be thinking that bundles are a bit of a hassle. And it’s true that they do take a little extra effort.
But if you do the work up front, you’ll be rewarded with low-competition listings making steady sales all year long. Plus, once you’ve mastered a few basic bundles, you can add in-demand seasonal bundles (think: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Back-to-School, Halloween….).
And even though you have to invest some resources in writing good product pages and taking high-quality photos, it’s still a low-cost investment compared to private label.
In fact, my friends Amy Feierman and Kristin Ostrander call bundling “the poor man’s private label” ?
Actually, Amy and Kristin know a lot about bundling (way more than I do!) They’ve even created a step-by-step video course that will help you create profitable product bundles for Amazon FBA.
This course will cover all the basics like pricing strategies, photography techniques, and packaging ideas. But the real value lies in their method for creating one-of-a-kind bundles that can’t be copied by your competition. This technique is really their secret sauce, so you’ll have to learn it from them!
Their Amazon FBA Bundle Strategy course also includes access to their private community. Once you’re in the group, you’ll have a place to brainstorm bundle ideas and even get help navigating UPC exemptions.