Building an Efficient Wholesale Workflow

If there’s one thing we do regularly in the world of Amazon, it’s placing restock orders. Knowing the status of every order and confirming our partners (prep centers, etc.) have the information they need is critical.

We’ll be making a few assumptions in this tutorial. The goal here isn’t to build out an explicitly detailed, one-size-fits-all workflow for everyone to use. I’m more focused on getting you thinking about what you’ll need to make your process more efficient.

This tutorial is broken down into two parts: order data collection and comprehension and building a workflow based on said comprehension. The first part will involve some thinking and consideration of what information is most important. In the second part (and a second post), we’ll build a workflow based on what we’ve come to understand using Process.st.

Process.st has a free tier that allows for up to five active instances of a workflow at a time. If you find yourself needing more in the future, Process.st plans are highly competitive, starting at $12.50/month.

Part 1: Order dissemination

Before we dive into building our workflow, we need to understand the problems we’re trying to solve. For the sake of this tutorial, I’ve created three:

  1. I’ve placed an order, but did I do all the things afterward?
  2. Does my prep center have all the information it needs and have we done all the required tasks for when the order arrives?
  3. Are my other tools updated to reflect this order?

After reflecting on what I’ve seen come up most often, these are the three big ones. I can think of a few smaller, more specific workflows that some might engage before or afterward, like listing creation–involving photos, outside listing help, etc., starting PPC campaigns, and monitoring review feedback (if it’s a private label or exclusive item). I firmly believe that once we go over the fundamentals of Process.st, you’ll be well on your way to creating workflows that meet those needs on your own.

Based on this, we can safely say we have two stages to our workflow so far:

  • Order information
  • Prep center information

So we have our first two holes in our regular operations that we need to fill. The next step is gathering all the information we regularly collect, interpret, and relay every time.

What we need for: I’ve placed an order, but did I do all the things afterward?

You’ve clicked “Buy” on the supplier’s webform or received an email confirmation after placing the phone call. Great. What do you need to carry over elsewhere? We can break this down even further because more often than not, the moment you place an order isn’t the moment the order ships. Breaking it down, we have:

  1. Invoice number: Having some way to track each of our workflows is crucial. If something comes up down the road, being able to go back and quickly find the workflow instance will save you tons of time over trying to discern if all the right steps took place from memory.
  2. Product info: This includes things like quantities, buy costs, and variations. Ideally, this will be broken out by line item.
  3. Shipping method: It helps to make your prep center aware of how your product will arrive. For example, handling a delivery from UPS in a single box is much different than a freight delivery with liftgate.

Considering the information we have, we can expand on our requirements list a bit. Here’s where it stands, now:

What we need for: Does my prep center have all the information it needs for when the order arrives?

We’ve established our prep center will need to know what packages are ours when they arrive, but we haven’t yet developed any useful data for the pre center or ensured we’ve met all their requirements. Some prep centers accept emails as a simple “heads up” that the product is incoming. Some have their portals to punch in all the data. Either way, it’s helpful we make a note of the required bits, so when it comes time to inform our prep center, we’re relaying precisely the right information.

What does your prep center need to know? Typically line items, any special preparation instructions (is this a multi-pack? are two or more of these items a bundle? how about hazmat status?) and particular shipment directions tend to be most common.

Once they have the products and are prepping, packaging for inbound shipping to Amazon is generally next on the list. Most prep centers require one of two things:

  1. Creating a shipment and sharing it with them via Supply Chain Connect
  2. Granting them limited account access to create shipments on their own

If it’s the former, make sure to add that step into the workflow. For the sake of completeness, we’ll be doing that. The latter generally only means we’ve created the product listing properly (with FBA pre-prep data like hazmat status, dangerous goods labels, etc.) Some prep centers will create the shipments entirely themselves, so pre-shipment steps like barcode options and defining units/case isn’t on your list of pre-requisites.

With that in mind, we can add a few items to our list:

Some bullets appear twice not because we’ll be duplicating effort for standard and hazmat shipments, but because we need to ensure we’re considering them as separate shipments during their creation and as we relay the shipment information to our prep center. When we create a mixed shipment–say two items, one is hazmat, one is not–we’ll have one shipping plan, but two destinations and two FBAxxx shipment IDs.

What we need for: are my other tools updated to reflect this order?

For many Amazon business operators, Seller Central isn’t the only tool in their arsenal. Repricers, restock management, inventory tracking, bookkeeping. As much as we’d love it, not all of these tools talk to each other. Making sure they’re updated with the latest buy and prep costs is critical. This consideration adds one last step:

  • Order information
    • Invoice data and order date
    • Itemized list of products
      • hazmat status
      • Prep: liquids, glass?
      • bundles
  • Prep center information
    • Inbound (to PC) shipment details
    • Inbound (to AZ) shipment details
      • Shipment ID
      • Share status
    • Inbound (to AZ) shipment details for hazmat items
      • Shipment ID
      • Share status
  • Update buy costs

Now that we have an idea of what to build, we’ll take this punch list and turn it into a repeatable, efficient workflow with Process.st. Stay tuned for part two.

Last Updated: February, 7th, 2021 at 07:19 pm UTC
Johnathan Lyman

Johnathan Lyman



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