Take a Deep Breath
Amazon announced that they were pausing inbound shipments to their warehouses across a range of categories starting immediately until April 5, across the US, UK & EU marketplaces. This news affects both Sellers and Vendors.
Ok, take a deep breath. Maybe another one. Now let’s get back to figuring out how this really affects your brand and what we can do about it.
First, Amazon has confirmed that the categories that they are prioritizing, and will NOT be stopping inbound shipments for. They are:
• Baby Products
• Health & Household
• Beauty & Personal Care (including personal care appliances)
• Industrial & Scientific
• Pet Supplies
Amazon is uniquely positioned to get products into customers hands, even when social distancing restrictions are in place. If you’re selling in one of these categories, this news doesn’t affect you and it’s likely that the current climate is supporting sales of your products.
So if you’re in a category that’s not in that list, what can you do?
Maintain Your Position
We all know that going out of stock on Amazon isn’t ideal: your sales rank drops and it can be tricky to regain your position once you’re back in stock again.
Start by reviewing your inventory: what products do you have low stock of, and what products do you have good stock of? Focus on the products that you do have stock of, and grow their position as much as possible. They will help you ride out the storm over the next few weeks.
Review your catalogue too: do you have any products that are useful for people staying at home more of the time? For example, yoga mats for at-home workouts, children’s toys and games, home crafts?
Your ads strategy is key to maintaining your position: for those products that you may run out of stock on, maintain a level of ad spend that will support your sales rank. It’s better to maintain a healthy sales rank whilst you’re in stock, than to slowly lose your position over time. Not only will that ensure that when Amazon increases their POs (for Vendors), they’ll order at your high volume, but sales right now may help your cash flow position. At the same time, shift some of your budgets to those products you have in stock, and shift more to support those that might see an unlikely resurgence.
Tip: Beware of increasing prices during this time, in order to slow sales volume: Amazon have announced they are suspending any sellers suspected of Price Gauging. Review your pricing processes to make sure that’s not you.
Manage Your Cash Flow
Cashflow, always a priority, is crucial right now. If your products run out of stock in FBA (for Sellers) or Amazon has reduced your POs (for Vendors), you may need to ensure you have cash to weather out the next few weeks. Understand your position, and what options you have if you need them. Speak to your payment partners. Speak with your suppliers too.
Of course, you need to ensure that your suppliers are well supported—we’re all in this together—but it’s better for everyone if you can ride out the storm and come out kicking on the other side.
If you need other options, understand what lines of credit or loans might be available to you. There may even be government grants.
Plan To Bounce Back
Things might feel scary right now, but with this sudden surge in demand, it’s understandable that Amazon & it’s delivery partners are struggling to keep up with the unprecedented high volumes outside of Q4. Amazon is working to rectify this quickly: on Monday 100,000 jobs were announced within their fulfilment centres to meet the rising demand.
Once Amazon lifts these temporary inbound restrictions on April 5, we expect to see an influx of orders across the categories affected. Remember, people will still need items in this climate and we’re seeing a sudden shift to purchasing online. Amazon is perfectly positioned to support that demand. In the next couple of weeks, you need to plan your strategy to bounce-back into stock and take advantage of the increased demand.
There are many levers in your Amazon toolbox to support your bounce-back strategy: from ads, listing optimisation, reviews and storefront to promotions, coupons, vouchers, lightning deals and marquee days. Put together a plan that’s ready to go as soon as the measures are lifted, so you hit the ground running right away.
At This is Unicorn, we’re here to help. We’re offering free consultations during this period, so please give me a call if you need any advice on how to navigate the current climate or support in planning your bounce-back strategy, please book a slot in my calendar or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.