Originally published on March 17, 2020, updated April 3, 2020
Things are changing quickly for Amazon sellers, and we're here to help you stay informed. This post has been updated with the latest COVID-19 news available for FBA shipments on April 3, 2020.
The global coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in online shopping as individuals try to stay home and practice social distancing. In response, Amazon announced that it is temporarily disabling shipment creation for products other than household staples, medical supplies, and other high-demand products.
It’s important to know that you can still sell on Amazon even if your products do not fall into the current high-demand categories. However, there are a few things you need to know.
If you sell household staples, medical supplies, or other items that are currently seeing increased demand, you will still be able to create an FBA shipment. If you sell items that are not currently prioritized (even if they are in one of the high-demand categories), you will not be able to create a shipment.
April 2020 Update: Amazon is prioritizing supply of COVID-19 medical supplies for hospitals and government organizations. If you sell ASINs that qualify, such as N95 masks, facial shields, and surgical gowns, note that selects ASINs will now be available only to hospitals and government organizations. For ASINs subject to this change, Amazon has eliminated standard referral fees through June 30, 2020. You are encouraged to make additional inventory of these products available at competitive prices to these customers.
Shipment creation has temporarily been disabled for third-party sellers who do not sell items that are currently in high demand. A similar approach has been taken with retail vendors. The shipment creation disablement will be in effect from March 17-April 5, 2020. Amazon will announce when regular operations resume. In a March 27th announcement, Amazon stated, "While we will continue prioritizing the products we can receive beyond April 5, we are now able to broaden the list. Given our constrained capacity, we are doing this on an item-by-item basis."
Here’s Amazon’s original message to sellers regarding this temporary change:
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.
It’s great that Amazon is doing this, because Amazon has the biggest distribution from business to customer in the country. So this will allow people who may not otherwise be able to get things, to get them, and it will help focus sellers on getting the best inventory that is most in need today.”
-Chris Anderson, Superhero Sellers
As a community, we are also concerned about the coronavirus and its impact globally. It will be painful for some of us to pivot to other channels or shipping methods for our normal products, but we can't deny that there is a need for crisis-sensitive goods that will help the country, and the world, weather this as best we can. It's possible that we will be shifting to a new economy, as many industries will be impacted by this crisis."
-Dean Kagan, Amazon Seller
Which products can be shipped to FBA between March 17-April 5, 2020?
Amazon is prioritizing household staples and medical supplies in order to more quickly receive, restock, and deliver customer orders. Most of the products that are currently being accepted are in the following categories:
Do not try to game the system. Remember, listing products in an inaccurate category is a violation of Amazon’s listing policies. An attempt to do so could result in suspension of your account.
Seller Performance was already taking some time to respond, and now sellers will be all the more desperate to email them about ASIN and account reinstatement. That will create a backlog and make it take even longer to get those reinstatements. Effective communication is more important than it's ever been. You're not going to get multiple cracks at reinstatement.Which marketplaces are experiencing this change?
Bigger picture, we don't know when this restriction is going to be lifted. It may be later than April. Sellers who were planning for Prime Day product launches may face problems.
All in all, maintaining strong account health is more important now than ever."
-Chris McCabe, eCommerceChris
The disabled shipment creation is currently being applied to both the US and EU marketplaces.
What if I already sent a shipment in with items outside of the categories listed above?
If your shipment was created by March 17, 2020, it will be received.
What about my products that are already in an Amazon fulfillment center but not in one of these categories? Can I still sell my products on Amazon?
Yes, you can continue to sell products that are currently in Amazon fulfillment centers.
How will this impact my IPI score?
If you sell through your current FBA inventory and stockout, your IPI score may drop. However, Amazon is aware that these circumstances do not reflect your performance as a seller. On the help page dedicated to this subject, Amazon stated, “We are working diligently to account for this change in your IPI score and in storage limits for the following quarter.”
I think my product is a medical supply or household staple, but I cannot create a shipment. How do I handle this?
Amazon determines whether a product is a household staple, medical supply, or both based on the listing. At this time, no requests to re-classify listings are being accepted. Prepare to send your inventory to FBA after temporary shipping freeze is lifted.
My item is listed in a prioritized category, but I am unable to create a shipment. Why?
If your product is correctly classified and you are unable to create a shipment, the product is not prioritized at this time.
How will this affect long-term storage fees?
Amazon has temporarily paused removal operations in some fulfillment centers to ensure capacity to receive, restock, and ship high-priority items such as medical supplies. You can still create removal orders, but anticipate delays in removal and auto-removals. Due to this change, Amazon is waiving the April 15th long-term storage fees for inventory that is stored in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the Czech Republic. In addition to this fee waiver, Amazon is waiving two weeks of inventory storage fees for products stored in these countries.
Although the convenience of Amazon’s FBA system is hard to compete with, there are, of course, other options for fulfilling Amazon orders. If you’re already participating in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program, you can fulfill Prime orders directly from your warehouse. Another option is Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM).
With FBM, you simply store and ship your inventory yourself. If your operation is 100% FBA, finding storage space may become a challenge. If that’s the case, look into a short term storage space rental or a third-party logistics company. There are a few major benefits to FBM, including more control over your inventory and lower costs. If you are new to fulfilling your own orders, keep in mind that you need to fill orders quickly and correctly to maintain your Amazon seller health.
As far as the new restrictions on inbound shipments, I knew this was coming. It was just a matter of when.
I have noticed in the past week there are more receiving problems in the warehouses. I’m assuming this is because they are both short-staffed and have poorly trained employees doing check in. My team handles the reconciliation of these and I have been 100% successful in getting these reversed and reimbursed.
I am going to be doing a lot more Merchant Fulfilled listings and working more on my Shopify and eBay stores.
Amazon has always required its sellers to be flexible and able to pivot. This is one of those times when the pivot is 180 degrees."
-Charlene Anderson, Amazon Seller
The pandemic has rapidly shifted daily life for individuals all over the globe. It has already begun impacting economies and businesses. eCommerce (Amazon, in particular) offers a way for individuals in quarantine to receive important supplies. As staying in becomes the norm over the next few weeks, there may be an increased demand for items such as puzzles, games, and craft supplies. If you are currently unable to send shipments to FBA, don't panic. Who knows, maybe you'll find that you actually love fulfilling orders directly!
Originally published on March 17, 2020, updated April 3, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.