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With the whirlwind of news updates and shelter-in-place orders around the country, businesses are being forced to adapt to continue serving their customers and maintaining a strong flow of business. 

Global mega-retailer Amazon is no different. They’ve had to shift their focus and shipping processes in order to handle the effects COVID-19 has produced in the online retail world. 

According to an Amazon company blog, “We’ve recently seen an increase in people shopping online which has had an impact on how we serve our customers.” 

Online shopping is on the rise, whether it’s because working from home allows for more visits to shopping sites, or because people are trying to stock up on items they can’t find locally. The current demand has caused Amazon to reassess how they can get products into the hands of people who need them most right now. 

So what’s actually happening?

When Amazon first broke the news of how they were going to handle the increase in shopping and shipping, a rumor started that Amazon would be suspending all “non-essential” shipments in order to focus their warehouses on medical supplies and products that would help combat the virus. This rumor was worrisome for people relying on Amazon to deliver their purchases, as well as for the vendors and companies advertising their products on Amazon. How would they be able to keep their business going if they couldn’t ship any products? 

Luckily, a simple Google search dispels most of that rumor. According to Business Insider, 

“Amazon is blocking all shipments of nonessential products to its warehouses in response to the significant increase in orders it’s seeing as the novel coronavirus spreads across the US.” 

This is only part of their short-term solution to prioritize essential products like “household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products.”  

Yes, Amazon continues to ship all products that people order, but they also want to do what they can to ensure that immediate needs due to the virus are met as fast as possible, which is why they are only refilling their warehouses with essentials.

One way they are doing that is offering a “No-Rush Shipping” option you can select upon checkout. This selection allows shoppers to acknowledge that their order does not contain critical items and rewards them with free digital downloads. Customers who select no-rush shipping allow Amazon to serve customers’ critical needs first and limit the amount of stops their drivers must make during this time. 

Another measure they are taking is strictly enforcing their Fair Pricing Policy to ensure sellers on Amazon aren’t trying to take advantage of this crisis and the customers by inflating their prices. They have blocked or removed tens of thousands of products so far that have violated that policy.

What does this mean for Amazon advertisers?

So what does this mean for Amazon advertising services? It’s almost business as usual! Because Amazon is focused on restocking their warehouses with essential items only, you will not be able to restock at Amazon if your products sell out. However, if you sell out of your own warehouse or another non-Amazon warehouse, you remain unaffected at this time.

Amazon Ads can still be served in all the places they were before the coronavirus pandemic inspired these changes. However, you may want to consider the following guidelines to maximize your retail business:

  1. Determine if your products fall under the “essential” category. If they do, continue your campaigns as normal. If not, you will need to conduct an Amazon inventory check to verify how much of your product remains available. Look at your prior sales and advertising data to determine how quickly your products sell to help you forecast how long you can continue your Amazon Ads campaigns before you’d need to resupply your Amazon inventory (if you use their warehouse for distribution).  
  2. Continually verify the items you’re advertising are in stock. Advertising unavailable products frustrates your customers and is a waste of your advertising dollars. You pay for each customer click, but produce nothing from them. If you have enough inventory for a while, then continue running your ads. If you’re low on product and will sell out very quickly, suspend your advertising for that product.
  3. Manage your ad budget and targeting accordingly, especially if you want to continue your advertising efforts, but also limit the amount of sales you’re making to maintain your inventory in Amazon’s warehouses. Serving ads at a decreased budget still gets exposure, as does limiting your keyword pool to a smaller group of available products. Your decreased spend can go further using these strategies.

There is no set date that Amazon intends to return to normal operations. Although the changes Amazon implemented in response to COVID-19 can be a hindrance, you can still do a lot to get your products in front of your target audience. You just have to get a little creative! 

If you need help doing that, iFocus Marketing is ready to step in and guide your strategy. We’re just a phone call away from helping you get the most out of your Amazon advertising and other advertising services during these uncertain times.