In an effort to focus on the delivery of medical and essential household items, Amazon has stopped a large number of independent sellers from shipping goods via the company’s warehouses.
The company sent out a letter to its selling-partners yesterday, which stated: “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 ship these products to customers.”
To combat the shortage, Amazon will now only allow baby products, health and household items, grooming goods, groceries, industrial and scientific parts, and pet supplies to be shipped into its centres. And these measures are going to be in place until April 05.
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The new rules will affect sellers in the EU or the US who are part of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. This is a service from Amazon that provides storage, packing and shipping assistance to sellers. Pausing that program will probably hit the pockets of these vendors pretty hard, but they’re still free to complete online orders using other couriers and delivery services.
This is the latest in a string of actions that Amazon has taken after the outbreak of COVID-19. The company has previously vowed to tackle price-gouging on its site, particularly relating to hand sanitiser. Since March, it has removed over one million items from its online shelves, all of which either had huge price hikes or made dubious claims in relation to COVID-19.
Any orders already placed with FBA retailers will still be honoured, and the sellers can continue with business as usual if their stock is holed up in an Amazon warehouse. They just can’t send over additional items to the centres for shipping.
Amazon has confirmed that it is currently working on increasing capacity for customers who need deliveries. Anyone who’s still looking for certain items can try browsing Prime Now. You do need to be a Prime Member to access this option, but there are lots of essential items on this site with one-day delivery slots.
When asked specifically about Amazon Fresh produce, the company said: “The health and safety of our customers, employees and contractors continues to be our top priority as we face the challenges associated with COVID-19. We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one. We’ve seen an increase in people shopping online for groceries and are working around the clock to continue to deliver grocery orders to customers as quickly as possible.”