The move applies to warehouses in the US, UK and across Europe.
Amazon’s ‘Fulfilment by Amazon’ (FBA) programme, through which it provides warehousing and shipment services for products from third-party sellers, as well as larger vendor shipment services, are being partially suspended until April 5th due to the global coronavirus outbreak.
In a note sent to sellers yesterday, Amazon admitted that its household staples and medical supplies are running out of stock, and has therefore decided to prioritise certain categories in order to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.”
Amazon defined six categories as ‘essential products’ which can continue shipping, including Baby Product, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific and Pet Supplies. For all other products including toys, Amazon has disabled the creation of new inbound shipments for FBA members, as well as for retail vendors (their business-to-business selling platform). The company said the new protocol applies to its retail inventory, as well as to the products of third-party sellers on the platform.
Any existing shipments created before 17th March will still be processed at Amazon’s fulfilment centres as usual, but new orders won’t be processed until such time as Amazon alerts sellers that things are back to normal. While April 5th has been suggested as the tentative date to restart shipments, Amazon has admitted that it could extend these limitations depending on how the pandemic progresses.
This move doesn’t block sellers from selling their products on the platform and fulfilling the shipments themselves, a help document sent to suppliers points out. Indeed, that might be the only option available to sellers and retailers who want to continue offering their non-prioritised goods to Amazon customers over the next few weeks.
For sellers, which account for over half of sales on Amazon, the new warehouse policy only adds to the economic uncertainty they are facing, according to Chris McCabe, founder of Amazon seller consultancy ecommerceChris.com. “Sellers are rethinking their entire strategies for selling in 2020,” he commented.