March 30, 2020
On Monday, Amazon.com Inc. announced it will halt, until April 5th, shipments of non-essential products from its third-party marketplace merchants in the U.S. and EU to its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) warehouses. Amazon ships products from those FBA warehouses directly to its customers.
The move is intended to speed and smooth the fulfillment of customer orders for products deemed to be essential. Amazon will continue to accept only shipments from vendors that fall into any of six product categories: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.
Online demand for such products has spiked of late, in conjunction with precautionary retail store closures and quarantine and stay-at-home measures related to the Covid19 outbreak. For example, during the four days from March 14 through March 17, the average number of daily visitors to Amazon.com was up 8 percent compared to year-ago, according to data supplier SimilarWeb Inc. In order to keep up with surging traffic and demand, Amazon also announced plans to hire an additional 100,000 warehouse workers.
As a consequence of Amazon’s re-prioritization, customers will experience longer order lead times on non-essential products – delays ranging from 5 to 30 days. Since some of Amazon’s 250,000 merchants rely on the platform for the bulk of their sales, a large number of them are expressing concern, if not outright panic, over the prospect of losing as much as a month’s worth of Amazon sales. While third-party sellers can still accept orders on Amazon and ship them themselves, most lack the necessary infrastructure. Some vendors report that their product inventory currently on hand in Amazon warehouses should be sufficient to last through the shipping moratorium. They are the lucky ones.
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