In the ongoing pandemic, sellers are experiencing drastic changes in the supply and demand channels. These changes are affecting both the sellers as well as the customers in unprecedented ways. The retail giant is responding to both. The best thing sellers can do at present is stay on the top of the updates, so they can act accordingly. Reading from reputable sources like eStore Factory always helps. To keep you on the top of everything, I have collected 12 must need-to-know updates, not just about coronavirus but also some of the significant changes in the Amazon advertising world that you might have missed amidst the chaos.
#1: Prime Day 2020 Postponed Due To COVID-19
The latest reports suggest that Prime Day 2020 will be delayed till August, but there may be deals before then. Amazon Prime Day is the next big event followed by 48-hour long Prime Day 2019, which took place last July. The stats suggest that 73% of the sellers make half of their total sales in the tent-pole events like Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday. But because of COVID-19 related fulfillment and supply chain challenges, the annual shopping event is going to take place at the end of Q3 i.e., in August or September. The surge in demand for essential products like groceries and other household items have overwhelmed Amazon’s fulfillment centers. On March 17th Amazon had suspended the shipments of non-essential items so that it can immediately restock, receive and ship those products to shoppers.
Usually, sellers prep for Prime Day several months before by stocking products in the warehouses, but this restriction could devastate the sellers’ Prime Day if they are not able to stock up their products on time. Moreover, the shutdown of Chinese factories has jeopardized the inventory supply of many 3rd party sellers. So in a way, the delay in Prime Day will benefit the sellers as they will have more time to plan their inventory. Amazon has announced the May 8th deadline for submitting lightning deal promotions, so make sure to submit by then.
#2: More Products Are Now Eligible For Shipment Creation
As we all know, Amazon had prioritized the shipment and fulfillment of essential items. So sellers were not able to send shipments to Amazon if they did not fit into the essential items category. But now, Amazon seems to have broadened its eligibility criteria. You can now shipments but for a limited quantity/ threshold. To check the threshold of your FBA products, go to the Restock Inventory tab and you will be able to see the “Limited Restock” badge on FBA products. If you find the badge on your products, download the Restock Inventory Report and you will find the maximum threshold in column AB which Amazon has set for your FBA products.
#3: Account Suspensions Paused Till Mid-May, Sellers Take A Breath of Relief
Amazon has announced that they have stopped suspending accounts for high order defect rates. “To protect your account and ensure these supply chain and fulfillment difficulties do not impact your Account Health, beginning March 20, we stopped suspending selling accounts for high cancelation or high late shipment rates. Effective immediately, we are also stopping suspension of selling accounts for high order defect rates. These changes will stay in effect through May 15.” Ref: Amazon. Although Amazon had already said that they are stopping the account suspensions in March, the official announcement has greatly relieved the sellers who are extending their delivery time because of staffing and inventory issues. Amazon also added that they will review the situation and further extension may also be considered. It is worth noting that on March 19th, eBay, too, officially announced that they would pause suspending seller accounts so that no one is harmed because of the ongoing pandemic. To keep your account health in check, make reliable promises to your customers and communicate with them with complete transparency.
#4: 6000 Sellers Suspended For Price Gouging
As quarantine and stay-at-home lifestyle has become the new routine, sellers have turned to Amazon for buying household staples. But some sellers have taken advantage of this situation to earn money. Price gouging on Amazon is increasing more than ever. The hand sanitizers sold for $21.99 are now priced at $350. Amazon, in response, has said that price gouging has no place in our stores; it will have zero tolerance for sellers indulged in price gouging during these tough times. They are monitoring the stores 24/7 via automated and manual means to remove any bad offers. “Amazon is acting aggressively to protect our customers from bad actors looking to exploit the crisis. We’ve removed over half a million offers from our stores due to COVID-based price gouging, and we’ve suspended more than 6,000 selling accounts globally for violating our fair-pricing policies. (Ref: Amazon)
#5: FBA Storage Fees & Long Term Storage Fees Waived Off For Sellers, Finally Some Good News
As we know, Amazon has already prioritized the shipments and fulfillment of essential items to customers. Moreover, because of shortage of workforce, Amazon has stopped taking removal orders. some of the fulfillment centers. Sellers can create removal orders, but there may be a delay in fulfilling the requests. Because of these changes, the inventory of non-essential items is sitting in the warehouses, costing money to the sellers. So Amazon has waived off two weeks of your inventory storage fees for the products stored in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic. And it has waived off the April 15th long-term storage fees for inventory stored in theUnited States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, and the Czech Republic. Ref: Amazon.
#6: Buy Box Preference Is Given To FBM Sellers
Remember some time ago, in the COVID-19 blog post; I said that you should switch to FBM as of now. Well, if you do that, it will benefit you. Amazon has not made any official announcement on this, but many sellers have noticed that your product can win the Buy Box if you are selling through FBM. This is because Amazon believes that sellers who are selling via FBM can ship products faster to the customers and their fulfillment centers will have more capacity to stock and ship essential items.
#7: Even Prime Sellers Will Have To Wait, Amazon Prime Deliveries Can Take As Long As A Month Now
Amazon shoppers have noticed April 21st delivery dates for certain non-essential items, even though they were in stock. Typically Amazon Prime deliveries take less than 2 days, but now items are showing 5-day delivery promise while the wait is as long as one month. Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Recode that the delayed delivery dates are not as a result of a technical glitch, but they accurately reflect Amazon’s current position. The delay has been made to prioritize the fulfillment and deliveries of essential products. However, it is unclear whether the retail giant would refund the Prime membership fees (partially or fully) if the delay continues. Amazon Prime membership comes at a hefty price of $119 a year in the U.S. and apart from super-fast 2-day shipping, it also comes with several other perks such as video and music streaming.
#8: Return Window Is Extended Temporarily For The Customers
Customers will now have more time to return the products. The items bought through the U.S. or C.A. marketplace between March 1st, 2020, to April 30th, 2020, can now be returned until May 31st, 2020. And the items ordered through Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, and the Netherlands marketplace between February 15th, 2020, to April 30th, 2020, can now be returned until May 31st, 2020 (Taken from Amazon). This move has been taken so that the customers will have more time to give back a defective or unwanted item and this won’t rush out on the streets as the pandemic is predicted to enter its worst stages in the coming weeks.
#9: Product Targeting Introduced In Sponsored Display Ads
Amazon Sponsored Display Ads is the newest self-service display advertising tool that allows brands to target, retarget and reengage the “lost” shoppers on and off Amazon. Introduced in November 2019, it has effectively replaced Sponsored Product Ads. Up until now, advertisers could target customers based on their views and interest, which was auto-decided by the retail giant. Sellers were not given the privilege to decide where and on which product detail page their ad would show up. But now, Amazon has released product targeting capabilities for U.S. sellers. Sellers can leverage Sponsored Display Ads Product Targeting to:
- Promote discovery of your product
- Increase product consideration
- Reach like-minded shoppers who are searching for products that are similar to yours
- Promote add ons
- Keep your products on the top-of-mind of the customers
The new update also provides access to more campaign controls and reporting metrics so sellers can fine-tune and improve the performance of the campaigns.
#10: Sponsored Brand Ads Experience Improved For Mobile Users
Amazon has increased the height of Sponsored Brand Ads on mobile devices. This change has been implemented to provide mobile users with a better shopping experience as the increased height makes both the product image and brand logo more prominent. Amazon reported that the campaigns that used the taller Sponsored Brand Ads on mobile saw a 13% increase in click-through rates. In order to create campaigns with taller ads, the brand logo should meet the new creative guidelines. If your logo does not meet the guidelines, your ad will appear in the old format. Here are the guidelines you should follow:
- Logo must be your brand’s registered logo
- Logo should fill the entire image or be on a white/transparent background
- Should not contain any crowded or cluttered elements
- Should not contain any additional text than in the logo
#11: Ad Creatives Can Now Be Edited In Sponsored Brand Ads
The newest updates let advertisers edit the creative of their Sponsored Brand ad campaigns. With this new feature, they can now change the headlines, logo and products in your live ads. Advertisers will also have the option to pause their campaigns or keep the campaign active once the changes are approved by Amazon. After you are done with the editing, submit the updated version for review. The new version will be in “Pending Approval” status. Each campaign can have only one pending approval version at a time. Before, if they were not allowed to make changes in the ad creative after they were approved. So if there was a change in the product packaging or logo, they had to create a new campaign altogether. But the latest update in Sponsored Brand Ads has given advertisers much more flexibility over their ad creative.
#12: To Cope With Increasing Demand, Amazon Hires 75000 More Workers
The stay-at-home and extended quarantine lifestyle has motivated more and more customers to rely on online shopping. Resultantly, Amazon has seen an uptick in demand and to cope with the increasing demand; the e-commerce mogul has already hired more than 100,000 new employees. But looking at the overwhelming customer demand, it’s looking to hire 75,000 more workers in the U.S., bucking the mass job cuts trend worldwide. “We know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis. We welcome anyone out of work to join us at Amazon until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back.” (Ref: Amazon.) The increased workforce will help the retail giant to fulfill orders more swiftly.
There is nothing you can do to fight the pandemic than staying home, but there are so many things you can do to prep your Amazon store for the pent-up demand. As it is rightly said, “you should never let a good crisis go to waste.” Use your downtime productively and invest in high-benefit, low-cost services from eStore Factory. Optimize your product detail page with our Amazon listing optimization services, build brand awareness with our Amazon EBC services and create enticing images with our image editing services. These few good steps today can help your store evolve faster and stronger when all this is over.
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