Amazon has suspended retailers from stocking non-essential items in its UK warehouses to make room for urgent supplies needed during the coronavirus crisis.
The e-commerce giant has been snowed under with orders of toilet rolls, wipes, tinned food and other vital goods from Britons bracing for self-isolation.
The spike in packages has threatened to overwhelm their 13 warehouses, prompting the decision to ban third-party sellers from stocking non-essential products.
Merchants send products to Amazon to store in their warehouses until a shopper buys it. Amazon then packages the item and dispatches it to the customer.
These outlets can still sell phones, toys, bread makers, and other non-essentials on the website, but they will have to organise delivery themselves.
Items already in their warehouses – and those en route – will still be delivered, meaning consumers awaiting an order should still receive it providing it is already stocked.
But third-party retailers, which sell 60 per cent of all products on the platform, have warned that a lack of their own personal storage space will likely see a fall in stock over the coming weeks.
The new measures, which also apply in the United States, came as Amazon employees were asked to work overtime to keep up with panic-buying deliveries.
In a statement, the Seattle-based website said: ‘We are seeing increased online shopping and as a result some products such as household staples and medical supplies are out of stock.
Amazon will stop stocking and shipping all non-medical and non-essential supplies from its warehouses until April 5 in efforts to prioritise goods needed during the coronavirus pandemic (Tilbury warehouse pictured)
The e-commerce giant announced the new measures to prioritize goods including groceries, medical supplies and baby food on Tuesday
‘With this in mind, we are temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so that we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers.’
High-demand products that will now be prioritized include: baby products, health and household items, beauty and personal care products, groceries, industrial items and pet supplies.
Online shopping is ramping up as officials impose curfews and lockdowns on areas most hit by the virus.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson ramped up the government’s response to the crisis by urging people to avoid social contact.
The over-70s, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, were also told to stay at home.
Impending self-isolation has fanned a torrent of panic-buying, with chaotic scenes at stores.
But online retailers such as Amazon have also been bombarded with orders.
Amazon has already run out of many cleaning supplies and is facing hefty delivery delays amid the mass panic, warning shoppers that orders may take longer than two days to deliver.
The coronavirus outbreak has already posed a difficult time for sellers, many of which relied on Chinese factories that shut down at the height of the country’s crisis.
Michael Michelini, a partner at Alpha Rock Capital, which sells around 10 brands on Amazon, told the Wall Street Journal that the latest move ‘makes things nerve-racking’ because the firm won’t know where to stock its shipments of shoe and car accessories coming in this week.
This comes as Amazon revealed plans on Monday to hire 100,000 more workers in the US to help deal with ‘the surge in demand from people relying on Amazon’s service during this stressful time.’
‘We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year,’ said Amazon’s warehouse and delivery network manager, Dave Clark.
The e-commerce firm said the new job openings are for a mix of full-time and part-time positions and include delivery drivers and warehouse workers, who pack and ship orders to shoppers.
Amazon revealed plans Monday to hire an additional 100,000 employees in the US to meet the surge in demand from panicked shoppers
Coronavirus protection: Goods for sale on Amazon to help control the spread. People are turning to online shopping after they have gone into self-isolation and are practicing social distancing to try to limit the spread of the virus
Protective gloves for sale on Amazon: Amazon has already run out of many cleaning supplies and is facing hefty delivery delays amid the mass panic
The Seattle-based company also said workers on at least $15, including those in warehouses and delivery centres, will receive a $2 an hour wage rise until the end of April.
Last week, Amazon also tweaked its time-off policy for hourly workers, telling them they could take as much time off as they wanted in March, although they would only be paid if they had earned time off.
Additionally, Amazon said it would pay hourly workers for up to two weeks if they contracted the virus or needed to be quarantined.
Kings Supermarket, New Jersey, with almost empty shelves on Sunday: Concerned residents are increasingly turning to online shopping now to stockpile goods from the safety of their homes as the virus sweeps the country and households turn to self-isolation