- Amazon will temporarily suspend deliveries of nonessential goods to customers in France and Italy according to a company announcement on Saturday, and in India, according to a company blog post Tuesday. The decisions allow, "fulfillment center associates [to] focus on receiving and shipping the products customers need most at this time," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters, which first reported the story.
- Third-party sellers that sell on Amazon.com but do not use Amazon fulfillment and logistics services to process and deliver orders can still ship to customers. However as a result, Amazon said to expect some delays.
- The decision follows similar, but less stringent, announcements in the U.S. and U.K. in which Amazon said it would deprioritize (as opposed to suspend) fulfillment and shipment of sellers' nonessential goods orders through its logistics services until April 5.
Thus far, Amazon has not said whether it will pursue stricter policies for U.S. shippers and focus exclusively on nonessential goods fulfillment.
"Everything that's normally been for sale on Amazon.com continues to be for sale but those [essential] items are being prioritized. Especially in getting them from suppliers so they can get out the door," Amazon SVP of Global Corporate Affairs Jay Carney said in a CBS interview on Friday.
Amazon currently considers "baby products; health and household items; beauty and personal care; groceries; and industrial, scientific, and pet supplies as essential products," according to Reuters.
Shippers worldwide are facing challenges getting supplies from manufacturers operating at reduced capacity and shipping via limited freight lines. Experts at Prologis said they expect the COVID-19 outbreak and the disruption it's caused to motivate companies to carry higher levels of inventory going forward as a shield against these shocks.
"Stockouts and lost revenues have become commonplace in recent weeks and are likely a lesson learned for supply chains," Prologis' latest COVID-19 impact report found. "The volatility flowing through supply chains ... underscores the need for flexibility and business continuity planning."
Some retailers, including "Victoria's Secret, TJX Cos' tjmaxx.com, marshalls.com and sierra.com sites, Tailored Brands and Brandy Melville" have chosen to suspend their e-commerce operations altogether over safety and financial concerns, according to a recent Retail Dive report.
For now, shippers should focus on diversifying their supply chains and implementing supply and fulfillment backups as best they can, according to a recent McKinsey report, as that can help insulate against stock-outs in the coming months and absorb excess inventory once supplies begin flowing form China again.