Coronavirus has killed over 1100 people and infected more than 45,000 people across the globe since its outbreak. The vast majority of cases are in mainland China. While life in China has stopped for a moment, people are returning to work after the entire business sectors and cities were shut down for more than two weeks.
There is still a lot unknown about how the virus spread from person to person, but there are fears that products exported from China may have contributed to the virus spread. This has disrupted the global e-commerce supply chain within a snap. Amazon sellers, in particular, are facing the heat as coronavirus infects Chinese workers.
Impact on E-commerce Sellers
Since China is the global leader when it comes to manufacturing and product supply, Amazon sellers are bracing for product shortages due to coronavirus. The Chinese workers are unwilling to or unable to return to idle factories, as they are worried about the fast-spreading virus that has taken the lives of over 1000 people.
Amazon posted a message on Seller Central stating that the Novel Coronavirus and the related actions have impacted millions of people across the globe. Amazon advised sellers to take necessary measures to protect their Amazon Seller Account health. They suggested Amazon sellers to cancel their previously placed orders that they are no longer able to fulfill, put their seller account in ‘vacation’ status, or take further steps to manage their inventory.
Selling out of medical masks
Within days of coronavirus being reported, major e-commerce platforms began to see a spike in demand for medical supplies like medical masks, sanitizers, etc. in numerous countries. Manufacturers that sell on major online channels like Pinduoduo, JD.com, Tmall, and Alibaba’s Taobao, are struggling to meet the growing demand for medical masks, which has resulted in depleted inventory and lost sales.
Taobao, one of the major players in the e-commerce market, alone sold over 80 million facemasks between January 20 and 21 (in 24 hours). Popular medical products and supplies like scrubs, medical goggles, and hand sanitizers are currently out of stock on these platforms.
The majority of the products that are purchased and sold online are manufactured in China. Now the problem is, over 33 million people are under quarantine. This ultimately means some of the manufacturing plants in China are completely shut. In the current scenario, the production is either stopped or slowed down significantly.
This has resulted in a backlog of products hitting the market and adjournments in purchase orders and shipments. While this might not affect online retail giants like Amazon.com too much, it would definitely affect the third-party sellers, which make up the majority of Amazon’s sales. Businesses that rely on the Chinese manufacturing industry are having some serious trouble right now.
Sellers running short on inventory are forced to suspend their order since there are speculations that products exported from China have contributed to the spread of coronavirus. However, health experts and organizations have ruled out this speculation stating that the virus cannot survive on non-living objects for longer. Still, as a precautionary measure, the sellers and manufacturers have suspended the product order for now. This has caused a severe disadvantage to sellers since they have either run out of inventory or are about to.
How Sellers Can Combat This Issue?
Well, the majority of e-commerce sellers rely on the Chinese manufacturing industry for their products. So, it is a significant setback for the sellers as the virus as disrupted everything. However, a smart seller will not wait until everything settles down. He/she would work on ways to keep things moving, even at a slower rate, also if it requires spending some extra money. With that said, let us discuss how you can combat these problems and ensure that your Seller Account remains healthy.
1. Find Alternative Suppliers
If you can’t wait for your current manufacturers to get back on their feet, it is time you utilize some smart free tools like Manufacturer Heat Map to find alternative suppliers. The tool allows you to unlock a world of ready-to-ship suppliers and distributors specific to your interest and targeted market. This will not only save your precious time but also ensures that your flow is not disrupted. The platform allows you to compare the manufacturers and suppliers based on their price range, reviews, and orders, among other aspects. And most importantly, it is totally FREE for every one until the Coronavirus epidemic ends.
2. Handle Customer Complaint
Customers don’t know the pressure you are going through. They only want the product they ordered in the defined time. Since delivering the product in the designated time doesn’t seem impossible, your customers may turn a bit sour towards you and may post a bad review. To tackle this issue, you can create an email campaign addressing the issue, telling your customers why the order cannot be delivered on time.
On the other hand, if your customers have issues regarding the use of products manufactured in China, you can explain to them that it is safe to receive packages and products from China as they are not at the risk of contracting. Tell them that coronavirus cannot survive on objects for long. Address the customers smartly and your business won’t be affected.
3. Calculate Current Inventory and Sales Velocity
As the export from China has slowed down, there is a possibility that you may run out of stock. You have to avoid the ‘out of stock’ scenario in any manner. You can either find alternate suppliers or you can slow down or temporarily stop your campaigns, whichever you find feasible. This will ensure that your products will remain in stock for a longer period. You can also extend the delivery date so that you can restock accordingly.
4. Keep in Contact with the Current Manufacturers and Suppliers
In the midst of all this, keep in touch with your current suppliers and manufacturers. Monitor when they will be going back in the production stage and when will they be able to ship the items. Keeping an eye on the manufacturers and suppliers will allow you to plan ahead and keep your Amazon business up and running in this challenging time.
Coronavirus has shaken the world by storm. Lives are lost and many are still struggling to survive. For e-commerce players, it is a hard time for them as well since the production has stopped entirely. This is the time when they have to look into alternate options, making sure their business isn’t affected too much.