The Frustration-Free Packaging program has been active since 2008. Since then, several guides have been published and Amazon Frustation-Free packaging guidelines over time with the goal of reducing waste and delighting customers with easy-to-open, 100% recyclable packaging. All information regarding package size and requirements for Amazon certification is published in the Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines, updated in 2021. In this context, we analyze what’s Frustration-Free packaging on Amazon and what are the current requirements to achieve the certificate. In our article, we explain Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines.

An introduction: What’s Frustration-Free packaging on Amazon?

The Amazon Frustration-Free program is a protocol that seeks to enable sellers using Amazon’s distribution channel to reduce the volume of their packaging without compromising the integrity of the products they carry inside. Thus, an Amazon-certified Frustration-Free packaging is one that is ready to be shipped through the Amazon system according to the requirements of the online retail giant.

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Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging: Guidelines for Implementing the 2021 Vendor Incentive Program

The incentive program for Amazon Frustration-Free packaging is designed in such a way that, while it requires effort on the part of sellers, it also provides a number of benefits for those who apply it. Thus, Amazon summarizes the following advantages of joining its program:

  • Reduction or suppression of chargebacks: companies that do not follow the Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guideline incur a number of costs that are eliminated by the application of these requirements.
  • An opportunity to study packaging and reduce associated costs: through the various packaging-related testing methods, companies are able to optimize their packaging. This results in lower associated costs: transport and packaging material costs are minimized, while the sustainability of the packaging system is improved.
  • The possibility to be part of the incentive program: sellers who reduce the size of their packaging and follow the Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines gain access to an incentive program in which they can receive between $0.08 – $6.49 per packaging unit.

What is Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging? All you need to know

> Measurement and packaging optimization

To determine eligibility for Amazon Frustration-Free packaging certification, Amazon has established three levels of packaging, which in turn carry different obligations: Level 1 (Frustration-Free Packaging or FFP): packages in this category shall:

  • Be made of recyclable materials (Amazon includes corrugated cardboard boxes and some types of recyclable plastic, such as PP).
  • Be easy to open
  • Implement minimal protective packaging
  • Be able to be shipped without an additional box or Amazon overbox
  • Require no additional preparation from Amazon
  • Ensure a minimum damage or defect ratio

Level 2 | SIOC (Ships in Own Container):

  • Shipping without an Amazon overbox
  • No additional preparation required from Amazon
  • Guaranteed minimum damage ratio

Level 3 | PFP (Prep-Free Packaging):

  • No additional preparation required at Amazon centers
  • Guaranteed minimum damage ratio

Regarding the dimensions of each level, Amazon establishes the following minimum dimensions to be certified as level 1 (FFP) and 2 (SIOC): Length 6″ (152.4mm) Width 4″ (101.6mm) Height 0.375″ (9.5mm). Smaller packages should be part of level 3 (PFP), as the company estimates that they will require an additional box from Amazon. Regarding the construction of the packaging, the Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines state that it must have a six-sided rectangular shape. In addition, the package must be capable of providing protection, stacked in mixed trailers and Less-than-Truckload (LTL) shipping patterns. All of this is validated through the ISTA (SIOC) testing program, described below.

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> Testing and certification

An Amazon Frustration-Free packaging must go through Amazon’s established testing methods to ensure that, after redesigning the packaging system and reducing the amount of materials, it is still effective. Amazon differentiates here between fragile and non-fragile products, in addition to the different levels mentioned in the previous paragraph.

  • For products considered non-fragile, the test can be carried out on its own according to Amazon’s instructions.
  • Non-fragile products weighing more than 50 pounds and fragile products must follow the ISTA SIOC or ISTA Overbox tests (for PFP level certification).

> Calculating incentives for sellers

Amazon’s incentive program seeks to encourage sellers to follow the Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines. In addition, this incentive program now includes larger packages starting from those measuring 6 x 4 x 0.375 inches to to 18’’ x 14’’ x 8’’.  To qualify for the program, sellers must prepare their packaging to meet the above requirements. Amazon has prepared an incentive calculator so that companies can gauge how much incentive they will receive based on the changes they make to their packaging.

For example, level 1 packaging that changes from 18x14x8 inches to 12x8x8 inches would receive an incentive of $1,262 per packaging unit. The same change in dimensions at level 2 would result in an incentive of $1,181. Multiplied by sales volume, these incentives can add up to significant amounts.

Equipment required to perform ISTA 6 Amazon

The ISTA test protocol requires the following test equipment, collected from Safe Load Testing Technologies’ Amazon Lab:

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Clamp tester

System capable of simulating the horizontal pressures and vertical movements of an automatic storage system. Our Clamp Tester is able to reproduce clamp tests corresponding to AMAZON and SAMSCLUB standards. Therefore, the clamp tester is one of the machines included in the equipment section of the ISTA 6 Amazon standard, both for and Thanks to this equipment it is possible to perform the clamping simulations described in the different test sequences. These sequences include the simulation of clamping on the sample in various orientations in a targeted manner, allowing to evaluate whether a packaged product is able to withstand horizontal pressure and vertical movement forces during storage and handling.


Drop tester

The drop tester is one of the most widely used equipment to test, quickly and easily, the resistance of the packaging to impacts and drops from various heights. These impacts occu

r mainly during cargo handling and distribution in companies that handle large volumes of packages, such as UPS, Fedex or Amazon. For this reason, drop tests are part of
 the test protocol developed by ISTA in collaboration with Amazon.
The Amazon Lab developed by Safe Load TT includes the drop machine, available in several models, capable of simulating flat, over edge and corner drops up to 2 meters in height and in packages up to 1200 kg or 2,646 pounds. Learn more about our innDrop!

Compression tester

Together with the Clamp Tester, the compression tester is another essential system for carrying out ISTA 6 Amazon tests. This equipment is used to simulate the compression forces that occur on packages when they are stored or stacked on the truck for transport. In this way, the strength and protective capacity of the packages is tested. The compression tester is also very useful during the package design and validation phase, as it allows new materials or packaging designs to be tested before they face the actual distribution cycle. In addition, compression testers from the innPress family are designed to perform compression tests on shipping containers, unit loads and pallets in accordance with ASTM and ISTA international standards.
This machine is of great importance within the Amazon Lab program and the Amazon ISTA 6 tests, because it allows to check if a chosen packaging complies with the requirements of Amazon’s own Frustration-Free Packaging program.

Vertical Vibration System

vibration testingDuring transport and distribution, packages are subjected to vibrations that jeopardize their integrity. As such, to avoid these mishaps caused during the transport of goods, Safe Load Testing Technologies has developed a vertical vibration system to carry out these vertical tests, typical of the distribution environment. We have an actuator with a stroke up to 200 mm and a DC accelerometer that will allow to work in very low frequency. It will also allow the injection of non-Gaussian signals. Therefore, it will be possible to simulate with even greater reality the vibrations undergone by the packaging through the distribution cycle. This system can also be modified to include pitch and roll movements by means of the Pitch & Roll module, bringing the simulations closer to the reality of transport.

Inclined Impact Tester

In addition to the impacts caused by falling packages during handling, it is common for packages to suffer shocks during transport, either because they collide with each other or with the walls of the truck when it accelerates or brakes abruptly. To subject packages to these impacts and evaluate their protective capability, the ISTA 6- Amazon test protocol indicates that these tests can be carried out with an inclined impact machine, such as the one developed by Safe Load TT. The innShock family of equipment is capable of simulating horizontal shocks and impacts that affect the stability and safety of the load in accordance with the test protocol designed for Amazon, as well as ASTM D880, ASTM D4003 and ISO 2244 standards. Why choose our machine for Amazon testing?

  • Simple and intuitive to use
  • Touch screen for easy ordering of tests
  • Designed according to ASTM D880, ASTM D4003 and ISO 224 protocols.
  • As an option, the inclined impact tester can include the innVision ST software: a high-speed camera that generates a report to properly measure load deformation.


Amazon Frustration-Free packaging certification: how to be certified

Obtaining Amazon Frustration-Free packaging certification entails passing the testing protocols required by Amazon. Thus, the ISTA test method is mandatory for all packages containing fragile products (glass, ceramic, porcelain, liquid or semi-liquid) or weighing more than 50 pounds. This test protocol includes different test configurations and the order and number of tests to be performed, according to the different packaging levels established by Amazon. In addition, for testing, there are two options: to carry out the tests using third-party packaging simulation laboratories (duly certified to meet the requirements) or to purchase the simulation equipment included in the Amazon Lab. At this point, it is important for companies to calculate the ROI of investing in packaging testing equipment and what kind of savings it could bring, rather than going to third-party laboratories. Once the testing protocol is completed, companies can proceed to incorporate their certificate in Amazon Vendor Central. Do you need to meet Amazon Frustration-Free packaging guidelines? At Safe Load we put our more than two decades at the forefront of transportation simulation at your service, through our Amazon Lab certified to meet ISTA requirements. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help you!


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