Amazon Changes Shipping Priorities for Vital Supplies

March 19, 2020

With millions of people across the country staying home and practicing social distancing, it’s no surprise that many are doing their shopping online through Amazon. As a result, the e-commerce giant has seen demand for household items and medical supplies increase dramatically over the last couple of weeks. In order to ensure that no essential products go out of stock, this week Amazon announced that its U.S. and European warehouses will now only hold “vital supplies.” This includes baby products, beauty and healthcare items, groceries, pet supplies, and books. 

“We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritize these products for customers,” said Amazon in a statement. Although the online retailer will continue to sell non-essential items like phone cases or toys, these products are more likely to experience shipping delays or run out of stock in the coming weeks. Along with ensuring that it will have plenty of shelf space to hold vital items, Amazon will also need plenty of employees to fulfill an ever-increasing amount of orders. That’s why on Monday the online retailer announced it would hire an additional 100,000 workers to meet the ongoing demand for e-commerce during the coronavirus outbreak. 

As Amazon alters its shipping priorities, suppliers and third-party sellers who depend on the site for distribution could be forced to ship products directly to customers. “Sellers are rethinking their entire strategies for selling in 2020,” said e-commerce consultant Chris McCabe. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime members will not likely receive their products in the guaranteed two-day window as shipping delays become more common. Only time will tell how both Amazon and its customers will adjust to these changes in the coming months. 

Questions:

  1. Why is Amazon prioritizing supplies like home and healthcare items in its U.S. and European warehouses? 
  2. How will Amazon’s changes to its shipping priorities affect its suppliers and third-party sellers?

Source: Krystal Hu and Jeffrey Dastin, “Amazon Warehouses Receive Only Vital Supplies in U.S., Europe Amid Coronavirus,” Reuters, March 17, 2020. Photo by Stock Catalog.

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