Amazon allows sellers to start shipping non-essential items again

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Amazon will soon allow third-party merchants to ship non-essential items to its warehouses, the company confirmed to CNBC.

From the end of the week, the company will start accepting more products from its warehouses, an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. Amazon told sellers in March that it would “temporarily prioritize” staples, medical supplies and other essentials in response to a surge in demand due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The news of the update was first published by the Wall Street Journal.

The spokesperson said products will be limited in quantity to allow Amazon to continue prioritizing essential products and protecting employees, “while ensuring that most business partners can ship goods to our facilities.” “

“We appreciate the patience of our business partners as we prioritize products for customers and follow health and safety measures in our distribution centers to protect our employees,” said the spokesperson. “We will be sharing more details with our business partners later this week. “

The update should be a welcome change for the millions of third-party Amazon sellers. After Amazon said it would prioritize essentials, many vendors told CNBC they were concerned that the move would worsen the already harsh impact of the pandemic on their businesses. Vendors selling items other than toilet paper and disinfectant wipes said they were forced to lay off or lay off workers, while others cut advertising.

Third-party merchants were still able to sell non-essential items on Amazon, but they weren’t able to use Fulfillment by Amazon or FBA. The service allows sellers to ship their products to an Amazon warehouse, where the company stores inventory and ships orders to customers, in exchange for Amazon taking a commission from each sale.

Users of Amazon’s seller Facebook groups said they noticed that some of their products, classified as non-essential items, were “unblocked” by Amazon. One seller said his company had been informed by Amazon that it could restock all of its nonessential items.

Steve Yates, CEO of Prime Guidance, a company that consults with third-party sellers on Amazon, said that Amazon appeared to be slowing down deliveries of some products, but that it has “opened up much more availability in the past few days.”

Another vendor consultant, James Thomson, said he also noticed that Amazon was easing restrictions on some non-essential items. Thomson added that delivery times appear to be improving on non-essential items in certain geographic areas.

“Non-essential FBA products in one city can arrive much faster than in other cities,” said Thomson, who is also the former director of Amazon Services, in an email. “You are looking for today [versus] Friday, there are already more improvements on consistent times across the country as well as accelerated times (this week [versus] next month) on a lot of nonessential stuff. “

Not all sellers have said they can ship non-essential items to Amazon warehouses yet. Jason Boyce, a former Amazon salesperson who is now a consultant to third-party merchants, told CNBC that his customers did not notice any changes but were “trying it out every day.”

Since the start of the pandemic, Amazon has faced increased customer demand on several fronts. The company added more than 100,000 workers to meet increased demand and announced Monday that it will hire an additional 75,000 workers across the country.

Deirdre Bosa of CNBC contributed to this story.

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