Amazon Limits Non-Essential Shipments Over Coronavirus Pandemic

March 17, 2020 Updated: March 18, 2020
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Online retail giant Amazon told third-party sellers that it will no longer accept inbound shipments of items under the “Fulfillment by Amazon” program unless the products are deemed a high priority amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“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,” Amazon wrote on Tuesday.

The Seattle-based company said that for any other products, it has “temporarily disabled shipment creation” and will take “a similar approach with retail vendors.”

The new measure will be in effect from Tuesday, March 17, until April 5.

Amazon said the following categories of items will be shipped as normal: Baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, scientific and industrial, and pet supplies.

“We will let you know once we resume regular operations. Shipments created before today will be received at fulfillment centers,” according to the statement. The move will be in place in the United States and European Union only.

“We understand this is a change to your business, and we did not take this decision lightly,” Amazon added.

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A Spanish police officers check a car at the border between Portugal and Spain, following an order from the Spanish government to set up controls at its land borders over coronavirus, in Vilar Formoso, Portugal, on March 17, 2020. (Rafael Marchante/Reuters)

Over the weekend, Amazon wrote that it was running out of popular household items and noted that delivery will take longer than usual.

“In particular, you will notice that we are currently out of stock on some popular brands and items, especially in household staples categories,” Amazon wrote in a blog post on Saturday. “We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your orders,” it added.

A quick review of items like bottled water, toilet paper, and some canned goods showed they are currently out of stock. And Amazon’s usual one-day and two-day options showed delays of several days.

According to Vox, on an Amazon message board for third-party sellers, some said that the new changes will essentially destroy their businesses.

“Amazon just put tons of businesses out of business,” one seller wrote on Tuesday. “Destroyed thousands of jobs amidst a crisis. Horrible joke. Absolute joke. No warning. Expect major lawsuits coming from sellers who now will go bankrupt.”

“It is not doable,” another seller said. “Most of us do not have the infrastructure in place. We do not have the boxes or packing material to do this.”