“It’s just a flu!”
We’ve been hearing this time and time again over the past few weeks. However, keeping pace with Coronavirus statistics paints a different picture. According to Wordometers, “COVID-19 is affecting 162 countries and territories around the world and 1 international conveyance (the Diamond Princess cruise ship harbored in Yokohama, Japan).” While the symptoms are not that different, what differs is the reaction of the media and people to this new strain of disease. With all the buzz created around COVID-19, it is hardly surprising that people put physical stores on the back burner to minimize interaction with the outside world. That should theoretically boost online sales. So, here’s the question: what fate awaits e-commerce sellers?
If anything, Coronavirus has shown the direct link between the commerce and eCommerce world. It has always been there, but it’s more amplified now. With the virus spreading throughout the world, sellers are at high risk since more and more factories are closing down and manufacturing plants are halting activities until a resolution is made. Even though e-commerce doesn’t have a physical appearance, we all know that it highly depends on physical stores. This means that not only sellers, but also the distributors are going out of stock, which will result in a continuous lack of inventory.
We are aware that supply chains are disrupted and this has sellers biting their nails in panic. The good news is that we are no longer living in the Dark Ages and Coronavirus is not the Black Plague. Thanks to the age of technology and information, coupled with the nearly-limitless power of the human mind, solutions are being developed to counteract this crisis. Amazon is the biggest online marketplace and has taken initiatives to disinfect eCommerce of undesirable viral damage.
First off, Amazon is asking its sellers to cancel any pending placed orders in case there is no inventory in stock because of the outbreak. It also recommends putting your store on vacation mode if all of your suppliers are out-of-stock. This will make sure that your customers are not left unsatisfied, and worse case scenario, your account will not get suspended in the middle of all the madness.
As it is usual in cases of mass-panic, many people isolate themselves and being practicing social distancing. This means that less people opt to buy from physical stores (except those few hoarders) and more people would much rather purchase online, at the click of a mouse, from the safety and comfort of their homes. There are reports from CNBC stating that even though Amazon is pushing the limits in fulfilling FBA orders, it still being overwhelmed by the unprecedented spike in sales and fulfilling orders on time (especially for Prime orders).
To amp up the process, Amazon has put its 100000 warehouses on beast mode. It has also raised the pay of its employees by $2 an hour. The raise applies to each employee who works in warehouses, delivery centers, and whole foods grocery stores.
But revamping warehouses and positive employee encouragement are not the only steps Amazon has taken. The problem is not limited to fulfillment issues. There are also rogue sellers to keep an eye out for. As of now, due to a temporary change in Amazon’s policies as a result of the outbreak, only specific product categories are allowed to be shipped to Amazon’s fulfillment centers. These include baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care products, groceries, industrial and scientific products, and pet supplies. However, even this filter does not stop rogue sellers from reselling these products at eye-gouging rates. This is not only unethical, but it also violates Amazon’s policies, as well as devaluing brands. Amazon is on the hunt for these sellers, and is asking its customers to be vigilant and report overpriced items immediately. It also recently announced that it will not allow the creation of new listings for face masks and other hygiene products.
Even the internet is not safe from the spread of the virus. Luckily, everyone is taking initiative in coming up with different solutions to various problems which have popped up as direct results of the outbreak. The internet is doing its part in spreading news and the ecommerce marketplace is contributing to the fight against COVID-19. Amazon, Walmart, and other platforms are chipping in to make sure the marketplace and those on it function in the middle of viral chaos!