Amazon FBA shipment limits due to COVID-19 are evolving daily. From completely pausing inbound shipments of non-essential items in order to prioritize essentials to allowing non-essentials with quantity limits, the events that fell within the first quarter of the year have been one wild ride for Amazon and it’s sellers.
Now, as the situation continues to evolve, limits on FBA Shipments are also changing. So at this point, it’s time to start focusing on the new normal and what to expect as we head into the longer-than-expected COVID-19 era of business on Amazon.
With that being said, there will likely be many more changes you, as a seller, will experience and need to prepare for — and by prepare, we just mean getting ready for things to revert at any time– as the demands change with each new development during this pandemic.
Inbound shipments to Amazon FBA are at the forefront of the things to expect to change and revert, so if you’re a confused seller who has had their items placed on hold or you’re wondering what or how much inventory to send in now that Amazon is allowing shipments, read on.
Let’s start with a brief timeline of events:
In response to the increase in consumer demand as a direct impact of COVID-19, Amazon began prioritizing products that fell under the categories deemed essential, like household staples, cleaning supplies, and medical supplies, over everything else.
On March 17, 2020, Amazon suspended all incoming FBA shipments based on the surge in essential item orders. At that time FBA sellers were unable to create inbound shipments for items outside of those essential categories.
Originally, the ban was supposed to be lifted by April 5th, however, pressure on the burdened supply chain didn’t start to ease up until April 13, 2020. That’s when Amazon announced that it will begin allowing third-party merchants to ship nonessential inventory to FBA warehouses again.
Amazon started to lift bans on select items slowly, allowing more products to be eligible for shipment creation. However, as Amazon’s main priority remains to keep high-demand items in stock, they have placed a quantity limit on the inbound shipments of some products.
First off, if you want to send FBA items in, do it now.
With summer on the way and the FBA restriction lifted, sellers and businesses should focus on optimizing their supply chain strategy to secure their inventory position for the coming months.
With that said, it’s important to take advantage of the lift on bans. We certainly can’t tell you what is going to happen next, but we can advise you to ship in as much of your inventory as possible while bans are lifted.
With rapidly-changing trends and new developments daily, it’s uncertain when Amazon will need to revert back to essentials only. So it’s best to have your items fully-stocked in FBA now so that if items do become in demand, they are available.
To find out which of your ASINs are eligible to create a new shipment to FBA, you must check your restock inventory page or inventory report in seller central.
If you have products that are eligible, look for quantity limits that are marked with a Limited restock tag. Begin sending in shipments accordingly.
It’s a good strategy to send in as many items to the FBA system as fast as Amazon will accept them in order to stay fully stocked, to maintain your inventory, and to keep fulfillment as smooth as possible for you.
Now, your next line of concern is thinking a little more long term.
How to plan for success among these constant changes
It’s all about being proactive as we navigate the unprecedented Amazon demands in response to COVID-19.
With changing times, come new trends in sales. I mean, who would have thought that things like computer monitors, surround sound, entertainment systems, board games, and face maks and sanitizers would surge as the top sellers in 2020?
That being said, now is the time for sellers to consider products that may benefit consumers during these times.
As the strain on delivery decreases, it’s best for you to think about which products you can send in for seasonal matters or under Prime-exclusive benefits to help distribute your products better.
For example: with summer coming up and social distancing orders still in place, try to think about prioritizing sending inventory for items that are beneficial for the backyard and in-home entertainment.
Whether that’s stuff you sell to stay full, to keep cool, or to keep busy. Think ahead and think outside the box.
We don’t know how long all of this will last or what will come next, but in order to ensure the survival of your businesses, you will need to consider things you might have overlooked before and also take a chance on new things.
Aside from stocking FBA warehouses, you should also consider Multi-Channel Fulfillment (MCF) and Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) for your inventory.
One thing to look into is Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment. On May 7, sellers taking part in Amazon’s FBA Small and Light program were introduced to this new fulfillment option. By using MCF, sellers could fulfill their inventory by using sales channels that fall outside of Amazon, including their own.
This is a viable option to keep in mind as things move forward.
Fulfillment By Merchant
If you have inventory available that isn’t in an Amazon fulfillment center, consider fulfilling the products yourself.
FBM is for sellers who prefer to take control of their entire selling process. Some pros to switching to FBM are that you are entirely in control. On top of that, you don’t have to pay as much in seller fees as sellers using FBA. However, there will be a significant amount of work involved.
Aside from the fulfillment workload, you are responsible for dealing with customers and returns directly. Typically, another con would be that you wouldn’t have the same access to Prime members. That means you’d have to work extra hard to take the buy box. However, with all of the things going on right now it looks like we might be seeing a long-term change in that as well.
Overall, the best thing you can do is stay in the know.
As we’ve said over and over again, there will be lots of changes. COVID developments often lead to Amazon changes as well, so stay informed. As long as you stay up to date and then act in alignment with what you know, you’ll be alright. In the meantime, we just have to ride this wave out.