It seems that expiration dates on products are one of the areas that keep sellers confused and in the dark.  Many sellers choose to just avoid products that have expiration dates all together just because they don’t know what to do with them.  Today, I would like to share some of my tips on making the best of items with expirations. First, let’s go over the rules that Amazon has set in place for selling items with expirations.

  • A product that has an expiration date may be listed with FBA as long as the unit is lot-controlled and the remaining shelf life is greater than 90 days from the time of receipt by Amazon.
  • Units that are within 50 days of the expiration date will be removed for disposal by Amazon.
  • Units that are disposed of will not be available for return.

This means that when you are sending products into Amazon fulfillment centers, they have to be checked in and still have more than 90 days left on the shelf life.  If you are cutting it close, you will want to account for time for the item to ship to Amazon as well as time for it to be fully checked in. The items must sell before there is less than 50 days left on the shelf life.  Once there is less than 50 days left, Amazon will dispose of the products and you can not get them back after that point. When I am scouting for items, I keep a 4 month time frame in mind.  That way I have enough time to get the items shipped out to Amazon as well as plenty of time for them to sell before being removed.  Since it is July now, I am looking for products that expire later than November (even though technically mid October would work).  You just never know if you will get the shipment right out, or if there will be delays when it hits the warehouse.  So, better safe than sorry. Products that can expire must have the expiration date printed on the master carton in 36+ pt font AND on individual/retail display unit.

  • Expiration dates must be displayed in the format MM-DD-YYYY. If the expiration date is printed in a different format, a sticker with the correct format must be applied, covering the original expiration date. Lot numbers alone are insufficient.
  • Note: Products that are printed with a “manufactured date” must have this date covered and labeled with an Expiration date in the above format. Failure to cover the manufactured date on a product may cause delays in receiving your products, or may cause your products to be received as “Expired.”

The first line of this rule is actually a little confusing when you read it.  The word AND makes it seem like the individual products need 36pt font expiration dates.  BUT, if you watch the video Amazon has provided, it clearly states that only the master carton needs 36pt font and the individual items need to be “human readable”. This is 36 point font, not too feasible for small items right? The next point is very important.  They want all of the dates to be in the format of MM-DD-YYYY.  So, if the product you are sending in, does not have that format, you would need to add a new label to it so it matches the format above. If an item has a lot code, or manufacturer date, you need to do a little bit of homework!  You need to call the manufacturer or check their website to find out what the actual expiration date is for the item in question and then add it to the product.  If you don’t feel up to figuring out the dates, it is best to just skip products without a clearly labeled expiration date.

Here is the last section of the rules for expiration dates:

Products that expire and are contained in packaging that requires additional prep, such as glass jars or bottles, must be prepped to ensure that the expiration date is accessible for Amazon associates during the receive process.

  • You are required to include the expiration date on the outside of the prepped product. The expiration date must be printed on a label in a human-readable font, in the required format, MM-DD-YYYY. For example, if the product is bubble wrapped and the barcode is obscured and no longer scannable, a label with the expiration date must be placed on the outside of the bubble wrap along with the product label.
  • Units that are labeled with the incorrect expiration date may lead to increased customer returns for your units, or negative customer reviews.
  • Failure to include the expiration date on the outside of the prepped unit may cause the unit to be relabeled at your cost.

This comes into play when you are doing multipacks of items because you need to put the expiration date on the outside of the packaging.  Or, if you are bubble wrapping an item, then you would need to have the date on the outside of the product.  If you don’t do this, Amazon can either refuse the items, or charge you for labeling them for you. I print out sheets of labels that say:  Best By:  __/__/____.  Then I fill in the blanks with the appropriate date.  You need to make sure that you print in a way that can be read by anyone.  Some people have very hard to read handwriting, so it may be hard to read.  Or, that really bubbly writing might be to hard to read.  If you have those types of handwriting, it would be best for you to print the date with the printer.  I use the same Avery Address labels that are used for printing the Amazon product labels.  Avery 5160 Labels.  Here is the template that I use for the dates:  Best By Template Here is the video that Amazon has made to help understand expiration dates:   I hope that I was able to explain some of the rules to make them easier to understand and not so “scary”.  In my next post, I will give some of the ways that you can keep track of the expiration dates for your items, so you don’t have any go bad before selling.  

**All of the content above in orange, was taken directly from the Amazon help pages here**
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