As we reported earlier this week, Amazon is struggling to keep up with demand on its website as Americans are stuck at home in the wake of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. With many local grocery stores and shops running out of essential items (toilet paper, paper towels, and other household staples, etc.) Amazon itself is running into logistics problems.
And for the orders that it can fulfill, its shipping services have been pushed to the brink, which is causing Amazon to take a rather drastic step to provide relief. The company's "Fulfillment by Amazon" (FBA) program is being temporarily suspended for certain product categories. Third-party sellers heavily rely on FBA, which houses their products in Amazon warehouses to have access to fast Prime shipping.
Amazon posted the following statement to its website describing the situation:
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.
This will put a lot of sellers in a bind, as Amazon says that it has temporarily disabled shipment creation for sellers using the FBA program. However, shipments that were created prior to today will go through as scheduled. This crackdown will be in effect through April 5th.
However, there are certain categories that are being exempt from Amazon's new policy, and they include: Baby Products, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care, Grocery, Industrial & Scientific, and Pet Supplies. Sellers that have products in any other category are simply out of luck until next month. And any seller that tries to place their products in the wrong category to get around these new restrictions will be subject to having their Amazon Seller account suspended.
Amazon is beefing up its workforce to help deal with the onslaught of orders due to the coronavirus. Earlier this week, the company annoyed that it is hiring an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can—delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them,” said Dave Clark, Amazon SVP of Worldwide Operations on Monday. “Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues. We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”
Entry-level workers at Amazon's fulfillment centers warn $15/hour, however, Amazon is giving all of these works a $2/hour pay increase through the end of April.