Amazon is banning its sellers in the UK and US from sending any non-essential items to its warehouses from April 5 as it struggles to deal with a surge in demand during widespread self-isolation.
‘Fulfilled by Amazon’, the retailer’s flagship service which enables third-party sellers to utilise Amazon’s warehouse storage space and delivery network, is being forced to prioritise essential products in order to keep up with increasing demand.
Only products from five key categories will be allowed, including groceries, pet supplies, health and household goods, beauty and personal care items and industrial and scientific items.
This is set to severely disrupt millions of sellers who depend on Amazon’s platform to run their business, and now account for more than half of the total sales on Amazon’s website globally.
This will mean sellers will be forced to seek out other methods of delivering goods to customers, depending on couriers and private delivery companies often much more expensive than Amazon’s offering.
“We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding,” an Amazon spokesperson said.
On Monday Amazon announced it would hire 100,000 extra staff in full and part-time positions across the US to meet demand in its fulfilment centres.
Writing in a company blog post Amazon’s senior vice president Dave Clark explained that the business would “meet the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time, particularly those most vulnerable to being out in public.”
It added that it would invest $350 million globally to increase pay by $2 per hour in the US and £2 per hour in the UK.
Clark explained: “In addition to the additional 100,000 new roles we’re creating, we want to recognize our employees who are playing an essential role for people at a time when many of the services that might normally be there to support them are closed”.