As it works to meet the surge in demand for "household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products," Amazon has told other suppliers, including publishers, that they will likely see reduced orders and longer delivery time at least April 5, according to both a letter PW has obtained that was sent to independent publishers earlier today and an article Amazon posted on its Amazon Seller Central website.
In the letter, sent from Amazon Vendor Central to a wide range of its suppliers including most publishers, the online retailer said that due to a surge in online orders, it is “temporarily prioritizing household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products” in order to restock those items. As a result, the letter said, from now through April 5, suppliers of products that are a lower priority should expect both reduced purchase orders and extended delivery windows for existing purchase orders.
"We have temporarily paused ordering for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products," the letter said. "We have extended the shipment/delivery windows for some existing purchase orders to give you more time to fulfill the order. Please ship your products toward the end of the extended window."
The letter closed by noting that the e-tailer is aware of the effect this will have on businesses, and is "working around the clock to increase capacity, and on March 16 announced that we are opening 100,000 new full- and part-time positions in our fulfillment centers across the U.S."
The article posted on Amazon Seller Central, which clarified that these new priorities would affect both the U.S. and E.U. markets, specified that the products to be prioritized would be in the Baby Products, Health & Household, Beauty & Personal Care (including personal care appliances), Grocery, Industrial & Scientific, and Pet Supplies categories. The company also added that "listing products in an inaccurate category is a violation of our listing policies and may result in account suspension."
The move will hurt independent publishers in particular, whose reliance upon the e-tailer to sell their books is often begrudging but has nonetheless become inevitable as Amazon has continued to dominate the book sales market year after year. "it's going to be a rough ride any way you slice it, given the slim margins we all operate on," one indie publisher told PW.
While some independent publishers have already heard from the e-tailer, others have not, which may be, some publishers said, because orders are handled through their distributors. One of the Big Five houses confirmed that it did not receive the letter.
Amazon had not responded to requests for comment early Tuesday afternoon.