Industry Update: Tips for Navigating Amazon’s Suspension of FBA Support

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Scroll to the bottom of this post for up-to-date information on how carriers and marketplaces are being affected during the COVID-19 pandemic.


With most countries on lockdown due to rising concerns around COVID-19, panic has created a surge in demand for select retail products. Both online and in-store, consumers are wiping out the supply of toilet paper, disinfectants and shelf-stable groceries — among other items — and it’s creating a ripple effect of unprecedented challenges across the global supply chain.

In an effort to keep up with the demand, Amazon announced this week that they have suspended inbound deliveries of Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) items that DO NOT fall into the following categories:

  • Baby Products
  • Health & Household
  • Beauty & Personal Care(including personal care appliances)
  • Grocery
  • Industrial & Scientific
  • Pet Supplies

This suspension is currently in effect for all US and EU sellers until April 5, 2020. Products currently listed and stocked in Amazon’s fulfillment centers will continue to be available for sale on the marketplace. This includes any FBA shipments created before Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

Is Seller Fulfilled Prime Affected by This Decision?

If you are using Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) through ShipWorks’ Amazon Buy API, we have good news! Your business is already one step ahead of the game. According to Amazon, this decision will not affect any merchant fulfilled products. This means SFP merchants are not limited to their sales of products outside of these prioritized categories, and can continue selling on Amazon as usual.

Options for Businesses Using Fulfilled By Amazon

If your business is currently using FBA, you’re likely wondering how you can move forward without losing out on several weeks of sales. Below, we’ve outlined a few alternatives for how you can maximize the fulfillment of your inventory and not lose out on orders.

1. START FULFILLING YOUR OWN AMAZON ORDERS

Luckily, this recent decision does not affect the sale of any merchant-fulfilled products on Amazon. To maintain fulfillment and delivery times, Amazon has suggested that merchants fulfill non-prioritized products themselves. To do this, you will need to navigate to your Amazon Seller Central account to switch your fulfillment option from “Fulfilled by Amazon” to “Fulfilled by Merchant.”

While the Fulfilled by Merchant option does not offer access to some of the same benefits as FBA and SFP — namely the ability to market your listing as a Prime-eligible product — it is a great way to continue selling inventory through your Amazon store during this time.

We’ve made it simple to connect your existing Amazon Seller Central account to ShipWorks by using our Amazon Buy API. Once connected, you can import orders from Amazon.com into your ShipWorks account. ShipWorks makes it easy to create shipping labels, manage customers and emails, and update the status of each order directly in Amazon.

ShipWorks currently supports Amazon US, Amazon CA, Amazon DE, Amazon ES, Amazon FR, Amazon IT, Amazon MX and Amazon UK.

2. USE A 3PL FOR FULFILLMENT

Third-Party Logistics firms, or 3PLs, are commonly used to fulfill orders during times of increased sales or if a seller doesn’t have the warehouse space or staff to accommodate a high volume of orders. E-commerce brands trust 3PLs to handle many aspects of their company’s supply chain, including inventory management and storage, fulfillment and shipping, and return logistics.

3. EMBRACE A MULTI-CHANNEL STRATEGY

Although the Amazon FBA suspension is temporary, setting up additional selling channels is something we highly recommend and encourage you to do. During this difficult quarter, this could be a way to reduce the impact of lost sales. ShipWorks seamlessly integrates with a number of online marketplaces, meaning you don’t have to rely solely on Amazon to reach online customers and increase exposure to your product.

How is COVID-19 Affecting Carriers & Marketplaces Overall?

While the majority of brick-and-mortars around the world are temporarily closing; e-commerce (for the most part) is carrying on, business as usual, to provide consumers the supplies they need during this time. However, like Amazon, there are a select few who have suspended certain services and features due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Below is a list of carriers and marketplaces that have provided announcements around how COVID-19 will affect its users. We will continue updating you as the situation unfolds.

Carriers:

FedEx

FedEx is continuing to deliver packages. However, FedEx did announce that it’s temporarily suspending signatures required for most deliveries in the U.S. — with the exception of shipments that require an adult signature, physical signature is no longer required for Ground or Express services.

UPS

UPS is continuing to deliver packages. Countries that have declared a state of public health emergency may see potential delays in services, and UPS service guarantees for all U.S. origin shipments (U.S. Domestic and International), at any service level, have been suspended until further notice. UPS has also temporarily adjusted their signature guidelines for all shipments within the United States, with the exception of Adult Signature Required (ASR) shipments.

USPS

Domestic Shipping Updates

Effective April 17, 2020 The Postal Service’s flagship Priority Mail Express service, which guarantees overnight service, will not change.

Service commitments for local 1-day Priority Mail will not change.

Priority Mail’s two and three day service commitments now will be extended to three and four days respectively. Customers will continue to receive end-to-end visibility and improved product tracking, as well as up to $50 in free insurance.

With the extra day extension, customers should expect delivery using Priority Mail Open and Distribute (PMOD) to range from two to four days nationwide.

First-Class Package Service (FCPS) two and three day service commitments will also be extended to three and four days respectively.

International Shipping Updates

The Postal Service is currently unable to accept items destined for the below affected countries at any Post Office® or postal facility location until further notice.

USPS has also continued enforcing a temporary suspension on the guarantee of Priority Mail Express International destined for China and Hong Kong “due to widespread airline cancellations and restrictions into this area.

April 23, 2020:

The Postal Service will utilize sea transportation to address the issue of limited air transportation resulting from widespread flight cancellations and restrictions due to COVID-19. This option will remain in effect until sufficient air transportation capacity becomes available.

The first sea transport departed from the JFK International Service Center on April 20, 2020 and is estimated to arrive at the Rotterdam (Netherlands) port on May 7, 2020. Sea route arrival dates are not exact and may vary depending on weather related events and queuing at port of arrival.

These service disruptions affect Priority Mail Express International® (PMEI), Priority Mail International® (PMI), First-Class Mail International® (FCMI), First-Class Package International Service® (FCPIS®), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®), International Surface Air Lift® (ISAL®), and M-Bag® items.

  1. Austria
  2. Denmark
  3. Hungary
  4. Poland
  5. Sweden
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Finland
  8. Netherlands
  9. Spain
  10. Switzerland

April 22, 2020:
The following countries are also temporarily suspended, effective Friday, April 25, 2020:

  1. Algeria
  2. Egypt
  3. Montenegro
  4. Antigua & Barbuda
  5. Estonia
  6. Morocco
  7. Argentina
  8. Ethiopia
  9. Nicaragua
  10. Aruba
  11. Faroe Island
  12. Nigeria
  13. Azerbaijan
  14. Ghana
  15. Pakistan
  16. Bahamas
  17. Grenada
  18. Philippines
  19. Bahrain
  20. Haiti
  21. Qatar
  22. Bangladesh
  23. Iraq
  24. Sierra Leone
  25. Barbados
  26. Israel
  27. St. Marten
  28. Belize
  29. Jamaica
  30. Suriname
  31. Chile
  32. Kazakhstan
  33. Trinidad &Tobago
  34. Burkina Faso
  35. Liberia
  36. Tunisia
  37. Colombia
  38. Mauritania
  39. Turks & Caicos
  40. Dominican Republic
  41. April 3, 2020:
  42. Customers are also asked to refrain from entering items addressed to any of the below countries into the USPS system. The below list of destinations are suspended as of April 10, 2020:
  1. Angola
  2. Benin
  3. Bolivia
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  5. Botswana
  6. Burundi
  7. Cameroon
  8. Cayman Islands
  9. Chad
  10. Cook Islands
  11. Costa Rica
  12. Cuba
  13. Curacao
  14. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  15. Ecuador
  16. Fiji
  17. French Polynesia
  18. Gambia
  19. Guatemala
  20. Guinea Bissau
  21. Guyana
  22. Honduras
  23. India
  24. Kenya
  25. Kiribati
  26. Kuwait
  27. Kyrgyzstan
  28. Laos
  29. Lebanon
  30. Lesotho
  31. Libya
  32. Madagascar
  33. Malawi
  34. Maldives
  35. Mauritius
  36. Moldova
  37. Mongolia
  38. Mozambique
  39. Nepal
  40. Netherlands Antilles
  41. New Guinea
  42. New Caledonia
  43. Panama
  44. Papua New Guinea
  45. Paraguay
  46. Peru
  47. Republic of the Congo
  48. Rwanda
  49. Samoa
  50. Saudi Arabia
  51. Senegal
  52. Seychelles
  53. Solomon Islands
  54. South Africa
  55. Sudan
  56. Sri Lanka
  57. Tajikistan
  58. Tanzania
  59. Timor-Leste
  60. Tonga
  61. UAE
  62. Uganda
  63. Uruguay
  64. Vanuatu
  65. Venezuela
  66. Zambia
  67. Zimbabwe

March, 23 2020:
USPS announced suspension of Priority Mail International service’s guarantee to certain European countries, which include:

  • France
    • Also, La Poste has advised that effective March 30, 2020 through April 15, 2020, it will be unable to accept inbound letter-post flows in their entirety for the upcoming weeks, during which there will be four days of reception: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Efforts will be focused on urgent flows and the delivery of small packets able to help people during this confinement period. Therefore, La Poste is asking mailers worldwide to defer their non-urgent shipments to France
  • Great Britain
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

The following countries have suspended certain mail services:

  • Australia UPDATE: Australia Post has advised that they are declaring a situation of force majeure for all inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel-post and Express Mail Service (EMS) items until further notice. Customers should expect delivery delays.
  • Georgia UPDATE: Georgian Post has advised that the Government of Georgia has extended the measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 until May 22, 2020. The declaration of force majeure therefore remains in effect and unchanged. Customers should expect delays for inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel post and EMS items.
  • Romania: CN Poșta Română SA has advised that it is currently unable to send letter-post and parcel-post items to an increasing number of countries both within and outside the European Union. Therefore, it is no longer accepting letter-post and parcel-post items for international destinations to which transport capacities are unavailable.
  • Kazakhstan: The country has declared a state of emergency until April 15, 2020 which may result in delays of inbound shipments.
  • Denmark: Post Danmark (PostNord Denmark) has suspended signature on delivery. Delivery will be conducted via methods that limit human contact, with immediate effect.
  • Grenada: Grenada Postal Corporation, has advised that the Government of Grenada has declared a limited state of emergency for 21 days effective March 25, 2020. Outbound and inbound mail delivery services and other services will be affected.
  • Nepal: Nepal Post has advised that the Government of Nepal has extended the suspension of all incoming international flights to Nepal until April 15, 2020, and the country is in lockdown until April 7, 2020. These measures are adversely affecting the collection, transmission and delivery of mail items.
  • Colombia: Servicios Postales Nacionales S.A. 4-72, has advised that, owing to the emergency resulting from the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), there will be significant delays in all of its international inbound and outbound letter-post, parcel-post and EMS services.
  • Bolivia: Agencia Boliviana de Correos has advised that effective from March 22 to April 15, 2020, it is temporarily suspending all mail services.

The Postal Service will continue to accept and process mail destined for the aforementioned countries. This mail will be held within their network and will be delivered once mail service is restored.

DHL eCommerce

DHL announced that they will begin implementing a new Emergency Situation Surcharge on all Time Definite International (TDI) shipments, effective April 1st and until further notice.

DHL Express

DHL has suspended partial or all services to a number of international destinations, including:

  1. Brunel Darussalam
  2. Cayman Islands
  3. Chile – Easter Islands
  4. China
  5. Czech Republic (Delivery suspended to the following area codes, 584 01, 783 21, 783 24, 783 91,  and 784 01)
  6. Djibouti
  7. Ecuador
  8. French Polynesia
  9. Honduras 
  10. Hong Kong – Except DHL Parcel International Direct
  11. Kuwait
  12. Lebanon
  13. Libya
  14. Macaco
  15. Maldives
  16. Mauritania 
  17. Moldova
  18. Mongolia
  19. Montenegro
  20. Morocco
  21. Myanmar
  22. New Caledonia
  23. Peru
  24. Philippines
  25. Somalia
  26. South Africa
  27. Sri Lanka
  28. Suriname
  29. Tunisia

Carts & Marketplaces

Amazon

As noted above, Amazon has suspended inbound deliveries of FBA products to fulfillment centers that do not fall within the product categories experiencing high demand. This suspension lasts through April 5, 2020. Also, Amazon has taken steps to prosecute merchants guilty of price-gouging.

Ebay

Ebay issued a notice to sellers on March 6, 2020 announcing that it’s banning all listings for N95 and N100 masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfectant wipes.

Magento

Magento has begun implementing a variety of customer-friendly programs intended to provide continued access to our products and help you get up and running quickly, including 3 months free of Magento Commerce.

Shopify

Shopify is helping businesses through these challenging times by making physical and digital gift cards available to all new and existing Shopify plans. They are also extending their 14-day free trial to 90-days for all current and new trialists.

Updated April 23, 2020