The coronavirus pandemic has shaken up the economy, and retail is being hit hard with a surge in demand and all kinds of supply chain disruptions. A group of retailers being hit exceptionally hard is Amazon marketplace sellers. This is mainly due to Amazon’s effort to prioritize medical supplies, household essentials and a slew of other high demand products. On March 16, Amazon temporarily suspended shipments of non-essential products to its Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) warehouses. While the suspension has been partially lifted, products that aren’t deemed “essential” are still limited in Amazon’s fulfillment centers, which is extending shipping times. Sellers who need to restock their “non-essential” products need to look at other fulfillment strategies. We’ve put together a list of tips for Amazon sellers during the uncertainty of the coronavirus.
Look for another fulfillment option
With the current limitations for non-essential Amazon sellers, finding another fulfillment provider could be the best choice for some retailers. With so much uncertainty, it’s a good idea to look at other options in case Amazon puts another suspension of non-essential products in place. A third-party logistics provider (3PL) is a great option for this as many of them have experience with Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), which allows sellers to still reach Amazon Prime members without using Amazon FBA warehouses and prices. If you can find a new fulfillment provider, it might be in your favor.
Don’t engage in price-gouging
As items such as hand sanitizer, toilet paper and masks have been in short stock, Amazon has banned new listings of some of these items. Sellers should refrain from getting into these categories as well as price gouging because any suspicious activity could get your account suspended. Amazon is closely monitoring these listings, and any opportunity is not worth getting your account suspended.
Be smart with your budget
The massive spike in demand for certain products on Amazon has caused problems for sellers on Amazon who haven’t managed their ad budget well. Efforts to drive traffic to certain Amazon listings have caused some sellers to run out of certain products more quickly. It’s important to be smart about your budget and space it out according to demand and your inventory levels. You don’t want to run out of stock of your items and lose the buy box—so make sure you refrain from spending your ad money on products that are about to run out of stock.
Work closely with your suppliers
The coronavirus has caused massive supply chain disruptions for many sellers, especially because a lot of suppliers are in China. Some sellers have been working closely with their suppliers to understand production schedules, and some are even ordering larger quantities because it could take 9 months to a year for shipments to arrive in the US. Additionally, some sellers are exploring alternative suppliers to diversify their sourcing strategies. Another tip for Amazon sellers during the coronavirus is to take a look at your supply chain in order to determine the best strategy for your business.
Some sellers have been working closely with their suppliers to understand production schedules, and some are even ordering larger quantities because it could take 9 months to a year for shipments to arrive in the US.
Be compliant with Amazon’s policies
As we talked about earlier, Amazon is closely monitoring its marketplace for any malicious activity. This is why it’s more important than ever to be compliant with their rules. Make sure there’s no false information or incorrect claims about the coronavirus on your listings. Amazon recently took down around a million products that had false coronavirus claims. It’s important to audit your product descriptions to ensure they are in compliance with Amazon’s policies—now more than ever.
Centralize your inventory tracking to increase efficiency and accuracy
Supply chain disruptions and uncertainties are magnifying the need for centralized inventory management. Certain industries like health and home goods are seeing demand shoot through the roof. If you’re a seller that still uses manual spreadsheets to track inventory, that’s a problem. It’s more necessary than ever to centralize your inventory data and integrate it with your existing technology, like warehouse or order management systems. Centralizing your inventory can give you a real-time look at how your business is doing and when your products need restocking.
Diversify your selling channels in addition to Amazon
This last tip for Amazon sellers can be a bit challenging but is a necessary move—especially if you have been affected by the recent policy changes from Amazon. This is a wakeup call for many companies, especially if they are entirely reliant on Amazon. There are a variety of other marketplaces that offer similar services to Amazon, like eBay, Walmart, Shopify and Flexe, that could be a better option for your business. Or you could look at transferring your business to a 3PL to give you much more flexibility—and potentially higher profit margins.
ITS Logistics is here to help
Supply chain disruptions like this one cause challenging times for many businesses. If you’re looking to improve your compliance with Amazon, reduce your reliance on Amazon, or switch to another marketplace entirely, ITS Logistics is here to help. We offer fulfillment for ecommerce, Amazon, full pallet, and any other options you might need. Give us a call today to learn more.