We’ve started to see Amazon UK FBA stock not shipping. This effectively cuts off merchants’ income in the middle of the biggest ever global crisis just as they need it most.
Amazon have already stopped accepting incoming shipments for a minimum of three weeks. Unless you’re selling in some particular categories which Amazon deem ‘essential’, you can’t restock and have been left to store, pick, pack and ship orders yourself. Having stock in Amazon FBA which will no longer be shipped is perhaps worse as you can’t sell the stock and you can’t get the stock back to sell it yourself.
Chris Turton of Ecommerce Intelligence was first to spot certain categories have had shipping times pushed out by a month. The stock is already in Amazon’s warehouses but even if you get a sale they’re not going to ship your stock. This will almost certainly lead to consumers not buying in the first place or cancelling their order at some stage during the month they’re waiting for delivery.
One example we’ve spotted is clothes hangers. In the image above you’ll see that earliest delivery dates are for the 20th of April… a month into the future. There is one listing with a delivery date of this Thursday – the 26th of March – but that is a Seller Fulfilled Prime item. You’ll also note that Amazon’s own offers are also showing extended delivery dates – the difference is that Amazon chose to quarantine their stock whereas merchants not only had no choice but also were given no advance notice or an option to have their stock returned to their own warehouses.
This really is a critical development. Many sellers will routinely have up to 12 week’s stock held in Amazon UK FBA stock and if it’s not being shipped it will leave merchants with no income. Sure a few might sell, but ecommerce has moved on from the days of “28 working day delivery” to the expectation of same day, next day or at worst a couple of days delivery. Consumers might be willing to wait a few extra days at busy times but they’re unlikely to want to wait a month for delivery.
“Our teams are working to ensure we can continue to deliver to the most affected customers, many of whom have no other way to get essential items. We are prioritising the intake and dispatch of items most needed by our customers right now. These are items such as food, health and personal care products, books and items needed to work from home. As a result, please note that delivery times for some items may be longer than usual at the moment.”
Amazon have been the champion of small businesses, often touting that more than 50% of the items sold on Amazon are from marketplace sellers and that has been admirable. In this instance, stopping Amazon UK FBA stock from shipping, reasonable when you consider the reason is to ensure essential supplies such as baby milk and nappies get delivered, but it fails to realise that merchants also have babies and if they have their income chopped off and can’t even sell their stock in other venues then how are they able to afford baby milk and nappies for their own family?
If you rely on Amazon UK FBA stock for your income, consider very carefully how you will earn an income if your stock in FBA is effectively quarantined and won’t find it’s way to consumers for at least a month. Whilst currently it appears a very few categories have lead times extended by a month or more, it’s likely that this policy will expand in the very near future – we’ve already seen Amazon stop shipping all but six types of product in France and Italy. Start planning now and if you have enough stock or can replenish and self fulfil think about venues like eBay where you won’t suffer from the loss of the Amazon Prime badge.