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Amazon Sellers & COVID-19

25th March 2020 | COVID-19 Updates, General News | No Comments

How Amazon sellers can get through covid-19

COVID-19 is now no stranger to business, with wide spread closures of non-essential businesses and facilities such as gyms, library’s, and even McDonald’s.

Amazon have recently made some decisions which could impact many Amazon sellers, below we will cover some of these changes and what you can do to progress with the changes.

how has covid-19 affected sales on amazon

After the government put in place social distancing and strict rules on why you can leave your house, Amazon have in turn experienced a huge increase in demand for certain items, mostly household essentials, food and healthcare products.

Actions Amazon will take

First of all Amazoon has made the decision to temporarily disable shipment creation of non-essential items to its North American & European warehouses on March 17th, and will remain this way until April 5th. However this date could change depending how the COVID-19 situation develops.

So what does this mean for FBA sellers? Well, in short, you won’t be able to restock into an Amazon warehouse if you aren’t selling in one of six approved categories.

approved essential items

Amazon have categorised what they feel is classed as essential items. Each of the items eligible for approval fall into the below categories:

– Baby products
– Health and household
– Beauty and personal care (including personal care appliances)
– Grocery
– Industrial and scientific
– Pet supplies

what does this mean for you

You can still continue to sell approved items via FBA, however, now more than ever, you need to pay very close attention to your pricing. SInce demand has increased for products, prices are also rising. However, some sellers are inflating their prices making business very unfair on Amazon.

being competitive but fair

Amazon are enforcing their fair pricing policy very aggressively, and if found price gouging your account will be suspended and you could even face prosecution. This means pricing your products correctly is paramount.

Amazon’s fair pricing policy states that you must not ‘Set a price on a product or service that is significantly higher than recent prices offered on or off Amazon.’ This might seem easy enough to comply with, but finding the balance between profitability and compliance can be tricky.

what if my products aren't approved?

You can still sell items that aren’t considered essential if they are currently in Amazon’s warehouse, however, Amazon will not be re-stocking their warehouses with these non-essential items. 

solutions

With Amazon temporarily stopping incoming stock for non-essential items through their FBA network, many Amazon marketplace sellers are faced with having to do the fulfilment themselves. This not always possible for the seller and moreover product listings could lose their competitiveness due to losing the Prime shipping option. At Virtual Logistics, we can quickly integrate your Amazon account with our platform and perform the fulfilment on your behalf. In most cases we can also offer Seller Fulfilled Prime, whereby your products and listings will carry the Prime Badge.

You don’t need to have your products in Amazon’s warehouse to get the benefits of Amazon Prime. Get on board with Virtual Logistics and continue business as usual with little to no down time.

COVID-19 & Business

24th March 2020 | COVID-19 Updates, General News | No Comments

What businesses are effected by the latest covid-19 news

Last night the PM made an announcement imposing a new set of rules we must follow regarding our day to day lives. In fact, these rules are the most stringent the UK has ever been placed under. The idea is to combat the spread of the virus though social distancing after the death toll in the UK has hit 335 deaths. 

As a result, any shops or business’ selling non-essential goods or services have been told to shut and gatherings of more than 2 people who do not live together will be prohibited. In fact, police forces now have the power to enforce these new rules, either by dispersing gatherings and even issuing fines. 

It is very clear now that the pandemic we are facing grows increasingly more threatening day by day, as Boris Johnson has no labelled the Coronavirus a ‘moment of national emergency’ and staying at home is necessary to protect the NHS and save live.

Expect these restrictions to be in place for at least 3 weeks. 

The government guidance says people should only leave home for one of four reasons:

– Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible.

– One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk, or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with.

– Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents’ homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school.

– Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home.

Even with the following guidelines in place, people should minimise the amount of time spent away from home, and ensure you remain at least 2 meters away from people you do not live with.

The government is also stopping all social events, including weddings, baptisms and other ceremonies – but funerals will be allowed.

 

businesses that will not need to close

– Restaurants, cafes and work canteens – but only for food delivery and takeaway services.

– Supermarkets and other premises selling food, including market stalls.

– “Health shops” such as pharmacies.

– Petrol stations, garages and car rental businesses.

– Bicycle shops.

– Home and hardware shops.

– Launderettes and dry cleaners.

– Pet shops.

– Corner shops, newsagents and post offices.

– Banks.

Other premises including libraries, non-essential shops, playgrounds, outdoor gyms and places of worship have been ordered to close.

Parks will remain open for exercise but people are not allowed to gather in groups.

Community centres can remain open but only for the purpose of “hosting essential voluntary or public services” such as food banks or service for homeless people, the guidance says.

Hotels, hostels, campsites and caravan parks must also close unless key workers need to stay there, or if other people staying there cannot return to their primary residence.

COVID-19 Safeguarding

20th March 2020 | COVID-19 Updates, General News | No Comments

important information - Covid-19

As Coronavirus becomes more of a threat in the UK, the chance of the virus spreading increases. Virtual Logistics have set up several safeguarding procedures In order to prevent the spread to our clients and staff. Any staff members who may come into contact with your products must follow a strict hygiene procedure, ensuring the warehouse, packing stations, offices (and hands) are cleaned consistently throughout the day.

We are committed to follow any guidelines put in place by the Government and the World Health Organisation and will be keeping a close eye on any updates following the current pandemic.

So far we have no reported cases of COVID-19 within the Virtual Logistics team, meaning any orders we fulfil for your business pose no threat of infection. If one of our team members becomes ill or show symptoms of illness, we will ensure they follow the guidelines provided by the Government and that they remain in isolation to protect us and yourselves. None of our team have recently traveled to or returned from any areas that pose a threat, meaning infection is unlikely.

Note: At the moment we have an unprecedented amount of orders to fulfil, but we are working as fast as humanly possible to get your orders to your customers. However, please bear with us if your order isn’t dispatched immediately.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch at info@virtuallogistics.co.uk or call us on 01254 918718.

For any information on Coronavirus please refer to the NHS website – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

We hope you stay in good health during this difficult time, thank you for your understanding.

Are you ready for Black Friday?

18th September 2018 | General News | No Comments

Love it or hate it, Black Friday is looming large once again, with the date this year falling on 23 November 2018.

So as a business owner you need to decide whether you’re going to take up the Black Friday challenge or boycott it altogether.

Among the big-name boycottees in 2017 were IKEA, Primark and Asda, who had evidently learned their lesson after the chaos of 2014. Who can forget the images of shoppers clambering over each other in a desperate rush to get knock-down price TVs?

Fashion brand Christopher Raeburn went even further than that by running a Snow Leopard Workshop to highlight its distaste at the mass-consumerism of Black Friday.

There are also activist movements to encourage not only retailers, but also shoppers, to boycott Black Friday and they’re gaining notable traction.

Indeed, taking a stance like Christopher Raeburn can have a significant positive impact on your brand perception and customer loyalty. Conversely, the opposite is true of Black Friday where it’s all about the price, so service and company ethos rarely get a look in.

But the big question is, can you afford not to join in?

According to IMRG, last year’s Black Friday sales were up 11.7% on 2016, with a total of £1.39bn being spent. Indeed, online sales have increased year on year since Amazon first introduced the UK to the concept back in 2010 (though it passed relatively unnoticed).

If your competition are discounting, can you afford not to follow suit and risk losing out on sales (albeit at a lower margin)?

If you decide to go for Black Friday, you’ve got to go all in. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of time, money and effort.

Here are some considerations to help you succeed:

  1. Ensure your pricing is competitive

This obviously goes without saying, but is easier said than done. Until the day of the sale (which in recent years has actually begun a few days before Black Friday for some retailers), you’ll have no real indicator of how low the competition are willing to go.

You’ll need to decide a pricing strategy that is low enough to attract attention, solid enough to protect your margin, but flexible enough to allow for mid-sale movement. Coupled with that are the staffing considerations of competitor price analyses and order fulfilment.

  1. Devise a marketing strategy

It’s all very well having the best price around, but your customers still need to be able to find it. Create interest in the weeks and days before the sale by distributing teaser email and social media campaigns. But be careful not to give too much of the game away, or your competition will be all over it.

  1. Ensure your website can cope

Poor website performance can be the difference between securing and losing a sale. As digital marketing guru Neil Patel explains, if your webpage doesn’t load within 4 seconds you’ll have lost up to 25% of your customers. This increases to over 30% for a 10-second load time.

There’s also nothing more frustrating than being half-way through a purchase to have the whole site crash around you, not knowing if your money’s been taken or not. For a Black Friday shopper, where speed is the key to a good deal, this is even more annoying.

So if you’re planning to offer Black Friday deals via your own platform, make sure that your servers will be able to cope with the increased demand.

  1. Promote your deals on marketplaces

One way of getting around the server capacity issue is to let someone else deal with it. Amazon accounted for an incredible 33.5% of UK ecommerce spend in 2017(1) and is the de facto place for a deals-savvy shopper to head on Black Friday.

So by offering your deals via Amazon or other marketplaces you can not only reach a greater audience, but also minimise your own overheads.

  1. Ensure your inventory is adequate

Having the right amount of stock is a tricky one to get right. You don’t want to have excess stock sitting around unsold, but at the same time, having too little stock means that you won’t be able to take the most advantage of Black Friday.

Bulk buying from suppliers can reduce your supply chain costs, but you do need to be confident in your ability to sell it. Otherwise storage costs will start to rack up.

One way around this is to negotiate a drop ship agreement with your suppliers, so that you order more from them as the orders come in. To make this succeed though, you’ll need a robust fulfilment process, as shoppers won’t want to hang around too long for their orders to be delivered. If your estimated delivery time is longer than your competitors, then the sale could be gone.

  1. Ensure you can cope with fulfilling orders

As with Christmas and any other sales, Black Friday is a peak that needs to be properly managed so as not to damage your brand. It’s all very well getting a vast increase in sales, but you need to be able to pack and ship them quickly enough to avoid cancellations.

So ensure that your staffing and order fulfilment infrastructure are appropriate for the amount of sales you’re forecasting.

How Virtual Logistics can help

If all that sounds a bit daunting, Virtual Logistics are here to help. Our order fulfilment process is so simple that, even if you’re not currently a customer, we could have you live within 24 hours. That still gives plenty of time for you to scale up ready for Black Friday.

In addition, our marketplace experience can help you maximise your sales via Amazon and others. Contact us today to find out more.