Amazon is making big changes to what it stocks in its warehouses during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, Amazon a memo to its third-party sellers stating that it would no longer be accepting nonessential products from those vendors to ship from its warehouses. This is a move to free up inventory space for products in high demand due to the virus, like medical and household goods.
To be clear, Amazon will continue selling all the items it usually does, including those from its many sellers. However, if Amazon’s inventory of nonessential items, such as toys and books, run out during this time period, sellers will have to ship the items to buyers themselves.
Third-party sellers make up more than half of sales on Amazon. The company typically provides these sellers with the option to use Amazon’s fulfillment systems, which enables sellers to stock their inventory at Amazon warehouses, while the ecommerce giant takes care of the shipping logistics in order to ensure buyers receive their orders quickly. For now, though, sellers will need to ship nonessential items directly to consumers if Amazon’s warehouses run out of inventory.
According to Amazon, the essential categories it will continue shipping for sellers include baby products, health & household, beauty & personal care, grocery, industrial & scientific, and pet supplies.
Amazon’s goal is to “quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers” during this time. The new rule will be in effect at U.S. and UK warehouses until April 5, according to Amazon’s note to sellers.
While people are being urged to practice social distancing during the pandemic, Amazon has seen a surge in orders for items in those essential categories. It has also had to deal with sellers engaging in for essential items that are in short support.
However, some current Amazon workers are about their own health and safety. Employees have complained that the company isn’t doing enough to provide its workers with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and protective masks. More than 1,500 Amazon employees have signed a demanding paid sick leave, childcare pay, time-and-a-half hazard pay, facility shutdown if a coworker tests positive for COVID-19 (the official term for the disease caused by the virus), and more.
While Amazon appears to be planning for the pandemic to impact business as usual through April, some are estimating the fallout from the disease could go on for much longer. On Tuesday morning, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the state is expecting to see infections peak in .
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