In a memo released to its sellers on Tuesday, Amazon announced it will prioritize essential shipments to its U.S. warehouses until April 5. The merchant restriction comes as an effort to meet the surging demands of online shoppers due to the coronavirus pandemic. What does this all mean for Amazon shoppers and its millions of Prime members? Can we still place orders? The short answer is, yes—but it changes things.
The e-commerce giant said it would be “temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock and deliver these products to customers.” By “prioritizing,” Amazon means it will focus on medical supplies and high-volume orders in the following six categories: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.
The precaution mainly affects third-party sellers, who can still sell nonessential items independently but will not be able to use Amazon’s warehouses—leaving them with an unforeseen excess of up to 60 days’ worth of inventory. It also means they’ll have to figure out an alternative packing and shipping method if their products aren’t already in, or on their way to, an Amazon warehouse as of today.
Naturally, small businesses that rely on Amazon for exposure and sales are worried they’ll lose a ton of business. Until April 5, this could affect how soon you get your package (third-party sellers will need to source boxes and packing material, so there may be delays) and whether you need to pay extra for shipping.
Amazon has decided to pivot its strategy in the wake of governments’ across the world urging people to practice social distancing, creating a ripple effect where consumers are relying on online retailers to stock up groceries and other household basics like toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer. But the sudden wave of bulk buying has prompted many technical glitches and out-of-stock messages, as well as sellers trying to price-gouge customers amid a wave of global panic.
In other news, in a blog post from March 16, Amazon announced it would add 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in its fulfillment centers across the U.S. The note also stated it will invest over $350 million globally to increase pay by $2 per hour in the U.S., 2 pounds per hour in the U.K., and approximately 2 euros per hour in many E.U. countries for employees and partners who are in fulfillment centers, transportation operations, and stores or those making deliveries so that others can remain at home.
Here’s the full message from Amazon:
Hello from Fulfillment by Amazon,
We are closely monitoring the developments of COVID-19 and its impact on our customers, selling partners, and employees.
We are seeing increased online shopping, and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock. With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and deliver these products to customers.
For products other than these, we have temporarily disabled shipment creation. We are taking a similar approach with retail vendors.
This will be in effect today through April 5, 2020, and we will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers.
You can learn more about this on this Help page. Please note that Selling Partner Support does not have further guidance.
We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly. We are working around the clock to increase capacity and yesterday announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the US.
We appreciate your understanding as we prioritize the above products for our customers.
Thank you for your patience, and for participating in FBA.