On Tuesday, March 17, Amazon notified its US and EU sellers that it would no longer be receiving non-essential shipments of Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) inventory. As of today, 3/18/20, the freeze for those marketplaces runs through April 5, 2020.
This is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and will presumably allow Amazon to focus on fulfilling the essential health, safety, and household products consumers are demanding.
Amazon sent the following notification:
Temporarily prioritizing products coming into our fulfillment centers
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.
What does this mean for US and EU Amazon FBA sellers?
As of this writing, Amazon FBA sellers will not be able to create shipments to be received at Amazon’s fulfillment centers through Seller Central. Until April 6, Amazon will only accept essential items such as household staples and medical supplies.
Currently, the categories Amazon is currently accepting are as follows:
- Health & Household
- Beauty & Personal Care (including personal care appliances)
- Industrial & Scientific
- Pet Supplies
Note: Not all products in these categories qualify as essential.
However, if FBA sellers correctly classify a product but still can’t make a shipping order, then Amazon is not prioritizing the product in question.
And while many Amazon sellers sell in multiple of Amazon’s 27 physical product categories, many will still be out of luck for not selling in the six allowed.
How many Amazon sellers sell in the allowed product categories?
- Baby – 17%
- Health & Household – 20%
- Beauty & Personal Care – 20%
- Grocery – 12%
- Industrial & Scientific – 9%
- Pet Supplies – 15%
Still receiving and shipping “grandfathered-in” inventory as planned
If you created your replenishment order before March 17, Amazon will still receive it. And while essential items will be given priority, Amazon will still pick, pack, and ship non-essentials.
However, non-essential orders may ship more slowly than normal, especially as shipping carriers feel the strain of increased shipping during the coronavirus outbreak.
Amazon FBA sellers can still use other methods of fulfillment
Amazon encourages sellers who typically sell FBA to use their own resources and carriers for shipping products, and to sell Fulfilled by Merchant (FBM).
Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) is a method of selling on Amazon in which a seller lists their products on Amazon, but manages all storage, shipping, and customer support themselves (or through another third party).
Approximately 94% of all third-party Amazon sellers sell through FBA; 66% sell only through FBA, while 29% sell through both FBA and FBM.
How will this affect Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sales and sellers?
So far, there is no change for Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) sellers who pick, pack, and ship their own goods for orders sold on Amazon. Amazon sellers are still able to create and list products.
FBM-only sellers account for just 6% of Amazon’s third-party sellers.
Can sellers still sell non-essential products?
Yes, both FBA and FBM sellers can still sell products that are non-essential. The only change is that FBA sellers cannot send non-essential inventory into Amazon’s fulfillment network.
Therefore, sellers must ship any inventory that is not already a part of Amazon’s FBA supply chain themselves, or use another third-party fulfillment network.
Can sellers sell essential products?
Sellers can still sell essential products as long as they are able to create listings for it. But, sellers looking to list products in one of the six essential categories may need Amazon’s approval. Amazon has “gated” some of the categories.
Furthermore, Amazon has started to crack down on price gouging practices for essential goods like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and protective face masks. Listings with high prices are being taken down and in some cases Amazon is even threatening prosecution.