I asked five top Amazon experts one question. As the coronavirus outbreak impacts the health and livelihoods of nearly everyone in the marketplace selling community, what is one major way that Amazon can jump in and help sellers today?
My first suggestion was that Amazon could begin by continuing to make loan offers available to sellers. We’ve heard from numerous sellers this week that loan offers stopped appearing or were pulled before they could act on them. Now, more than ever, Amazon sellers need the kinds of loans that Amazon Lending can provide. In this case, sellers often won’t be using the loans to expand their businesses. They may need that cash infusion simply to survive what could be an extensive period without FBA shipment capability, and with decreasing sales.
What other ideas come from the best minds in the business?
“I’d like to see Amazon delay by 90 days any Amazon lending loan payments by sellers that have experienced drops in sales over the past 2 months. With many sellers seeing sales drop 70%+ as customer preferences shift away from the sellers’ categories, these sellers literally have no cash flow, and now Amazon can take ownership of the sellers’ inventory as collateral for initial loan.”
I too really encourage Amazon to embrace the idea that sellers need to free up cash flow to make operational pivots on order fulfillment, sourcing of product, and of course to retain employees. A short term delay isn’t the same thing as debt forgiveness, it’s just temporary.
“Clarifying terms of service and responding as quickly as possible to seller’s questions would help alleviate a lot of the uncertainty in the community. Sellers want to follow the rules and stay compliant, but in the swiftly changing landscape, more and clearer communication from Amazon would be very helpful.”
Most sellers want to follow the rules, and unfortunately, sometimes policy language is vague. Exactly HOW to follow the policies becomes an issue if contacting Amazon teams and asking questions falls on deaf ears. Worse, sometimes the teams contacted (e.g., Seller Support) give answers that aren’t accurate, are incomplete, or create more confusion than sellers had previously.
Amazon definitely needs to reconsider current enforcement parameters as they pertain to metrics across the board. While we understand that Amazon cannot relax all measurements of seller performance due to the coronavirus. But Amazon needs to reflect that it’s “business as usual” in its enforcement of key metrics around shipping and delivery.
“Sales rank is being negatively affected by out of stocks, especially for those sellers who are unable to restock FBA inventory because their goods are “non-essential.” Having the engineers tweak the ranking system to not punish OOS’s so severely would allow sellers to pick up where they left off, once they are able to restock.”
Amazon is aware, from their own Fulfillment Centers or warehouses, how difficult it will be to manage stock levels right now. We expect Amazon to understand the need to switch from FBA to FBM and the resulting potential stock-outs that could occur. Therefore, we implore them to punish stockouts less severely during the extensive coronavirus outbreak period.
“If delivery dates are going to continue to be 30 days out, I’d love to see Amazon make it easier for Sellers that are able to self-fulfill convert their listings over to FBM and to allow the FBM SKU to win the buy box without requiring price changes.”
We’d like to see more signs that Amazon won’t keep moving the goalposts on the delivery dates, for sure. I agree and hope that Amazon helps to facilitate conversion from FBA to FBM for the sellers who need to make that change expeditiously, even just to keep their businesses going.