Across the United States, eCommerce industry leaders are helping online retailers to navigate this time of crisis by releasing their COVID-19 plans, relief measures and related programs.
Although it’s unlikely we’ll see the full impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have across the country for a good while, there are a number of encouraging responses from well known eCommerce platforms, online marketplaces and many other eCommerce service providers.
Talking directly to hundreds of online retailers each day about the effects they’re experiencing, we get that this period of the unknown is incredibly stressful for brands across the states.
That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive article on the current operational status, COVID-19 response and related resources shared by key online marketplaces, eCommerce platforms, shipping carriers and other related services in the wider selling community.
More eCommerce service providers will be added as we continue to reach out for updates.
Status: Active with limited with storage suspensions in its fulfillment centers
As of March 30, 2020, Amazon has announced it will be temporarily limiting receiving, restocking and shipping products that weigh more than 15kg. Any parcels already in the system on their way to its fulfilment centers are likely to still be processed; however it's likely some will be rejected.
If you are sending stock into FBA, then you can split your packages into smaller batches to get around the 15kg limit. Any shipments over 15kg that have been created but not yet shipped should be cancelled.
While it’s highly likely that you will have heard about the FBA restrictions from Amazon US by now, if not, then the leading online marketplace has placed temporary restrictions on the storing of most products in its fulfillment centers.
Instead, Amazon is making room for household staples, medical supplies and other high demand products. This enables Amazon to process essential items much more quickly.
To be clear here, this does not affect all items currently stored in Amazon’s fulfillment centers.
Do you use Amazon FBA and now find yourself needing alternative fulfillment services? We have put together a complete list of global eCommerce fulfillment services that may help you out.
Amazon has also temporarily paused removal operations in some of its fulfillment centers.
Online retailers can still create removal orders, but there will be delays in completing the requests. Similarly, auto-removals will be delayed.
As a result, Amazon is waiving April 15, 2020, long-term storage fees for inventory stored in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and the Czech Republic.
In addition to these changes, Amazon is in the process of ensuring that no online retailers artificially increase their prices on essential items during the coronavirus crisis. In fact, the online marketplace has already removed tens of thousands of listings from its site.
On top of this, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is working with public health organizations, government agencies and businesses around the world to give support where possible to help manage the ripple effect of the coronavirus crisis.
For example, AWS will be providing customers in the most affected regions with technical support and credits to help cover business costs. More information on this will be shared shortly.
In order to support its independent delivery service partners and their drivers, Amazon Flex users and seasonal employees under financial distress, Amazon has now established the Amazon Relief Fund, with a $25 million initial contribution.
In addition, Amazon US is providing cash grants to businesses in Seattle with less than 50 employees and less than $7 million in annual revenue. The US marketplace will also subsidize two full months of rent for tenants in Amazon-owned buildings.
To see if your business is eligible, check out Amazon’s official update.
On a final note, Amazon has contributed $1 million to a new Seattle Foundation fund for community members affected by the virus. This will provide resources to nonprofits and community organizations working with those who are most vulnerable.
eBay US is amending its current policies in order to reflect these changing times, provide support for eBay sellers and protect their livelihoods.
One way in which eBay is doing this is by adjusting its seller standards from March 20, 2020 until June 20, 2020, which means that your eBay Seller Performance will not be penalized even if you or your shipping provider are unable to fulfill your orders as quickly as normally.
For example, if you were a top-rated seller on eBay prior to March 20, 2020 and your performance over the next month would have moved you down to an Above Standard Seller, you will instead retain your Top Seller status.
However, if your seller status increases for the better, then you will still move up in the selling ranks as expected.
Moreover, due to eBay sellers inflating prices unfairly, eBay is now blocking or removing listings that make false health claims related to COVID-19 and any others that violate US laws, regulations, eBay policies or that offer unfair pricing.
Products that are being blocked include:
- Health care masks, including N95/N100 and surgical masks
- Hand sanitizer and hand gel
- Disinfecting wipes
Business and private US sellers who have listed these items have been notified by email from March 23, 2020, to inform whether or not these listings have been approved. Only a small number of approved business sellers will be permitted.
If you are facing temporary closure to your eBay business as a result of the coronavirus crisis, we recommend that you look at doing the following:
All US sellers can leave their listings active and manually increase the handling time. This enables you to still sell items, while informing your buyers that delivery times will be longer.
For Good ‘Til Cancelled listings, you may find it best to activate the ‘out of stock’ option, which removes your listings from eBay searches and protects your sales history for when you’re ready to start selling again.
And for eBay shop subscribers, you may want to activate vacation mode and hide your fixed priced listings until you return to selling as normal. In case your customers still place orders, make sure to increase your handling times.
Need to contact eBay US support? Due to reduced customer service staff, please expect longer wait times and suspended phone support for certain areas across the United States.
Alternatively, eBay US recommends checking out its new Seller Help area, where nearly all your support requests will be able to be addressed quickly and efficiently at this time.
Finally, eBay US will be providing financial support for small-to-medium retailers. If you are an eBay Store subscriber and could use help with your payments, check back here or your email on Wednesday, March 25, for complete details and how to request support.
As one of the leading eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce is providing support for its customers and the wider selling community by launching several helpful initiatives during these challenging times.
To tide you through, BigCommerce is providing three months for free on all plans for new sellers across the globe. Have you been debating whether or not to switch platforms? Now is the perfect time to test the waters.
However, do be mindful of this offer as it’s unclear whether or not you will be tied into a contract. We’ll update this section as soon as we know.
In addition to this, the BigCommerce team is working their hardest to provide online retailers all around the world with COVID-19 eCommerce resources to help you navigate through the coronavirus pandemic.
Owned by Adobe, Magento’s own response to the coronavirus pandemic is less specific than that of BigCommerce or Shopify; however, it’s likely that updates will be released this week.
Planning to attend Magento Imagine at the Adobe Summit? In light of the ongoing crisis, this event will no longer be in-person, however you will be able to access it as a digital experience.
Shopify remains open for business as usual, having stated that it does not foresee any impact on critical systems, its staff or its infrastructure. In fact, the Shopify team seems to be eager to help customers and the broader selling community through this crisis.
With a central COVID-19 portal, Shopify has also set up a COVID-19 community forum, for its sellers to connect with other businesses and get support during this pandemic.
Plus, all Shopify plans are now privy to gift card functionality, providing an avenue for your customers to support you through this time.
On top of this, if you're a Shopify store owner and have the ability to drop off orders personally, then the eCommerce platform recommends that you create a local delivery option only visible to customers living within that area.
In addition, the team is working on a feature to allow retailers using Shopify POS to offer in-store or sidewalk pick up for online orders. This should be released later this week.
If you are a US-based or UK-based Shopify store owner, then you may be eligible for funding from Shopify Capital through a cash advance or loan.
Finally, for any online retailers considering switching to Shopify or starting a separate Shopify store, Shopify is offering a 90-day free trial of its software. If you're currently on a 14-day trial, then you are free to extend it.
Popular eCommerce platform, WooCommerce, will be in full operation during COVID-19. As open source (free) software, there is little disruption to the WooCommerce team’s processes.
For those of you planning to attend local WooCommerce community meetups, the company has put together guidance for event organizers. Otherwise, WooCommerce users can join the platform’s active Slack community.
For ease of reading, we have compiled the key shipping services across the globe into one large, regularly updated resource. You'll find updates on FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL, Endicia and many more shipping companies. Head to our shipping resource now.
Other eCommerce services
In response to the coronavirus crisis, Facebook is about to launch a small business grants program. With the promise of $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries, the social giant will be releasing more information soon.
In addition, Facebook has created a business resource hub, that includes anything from toolkits to help businesses protect themselves from interruptions right through to helpful guides on how to plan your emergency response and minimize downtime for your business.
Finally, Facebook has launched a COVID-19 solidarity response fund and will match all donations up to $10 million dollars.
To support businesses and the wider community, Google has made all premium features of Meet (a video conferencing app) available at no cost for all G Suite customers until July 1, 2020 to support the move to remote working.
Google has also unveiled a COVID-19 solidarity response fund. For every dollar donated before 30 April, 2020, the company will donate $2, up to a total of $5 million.
And, in light of widespread flight cancellations, Google has consolidated information for airlines that are currently offering travel and flight fare flexibility.
You can also find resources to support your team with remote working
Status: All active
While not specific to eCommerce, it may be helpful to some business owners to assess any changes to mobile carrier services.
Below, we’ve outlined three of the most popular services in the United States:
- AT&T: Remains operational and will not terminate its service for small business customers if they cannot pay their bills as a result of COVID-19. Late fees will also be waived for these customers.
- T-Mobile: All customers will be given unlimited smartphone data as well as additional mobile hotspot data.
- Verizon: Remains operational and will not terminate its service for any customers experiencing hardships from March 16, 2020 - May 16, 2020. Late fees will also be waived for all customers.
Check this resource regularly to stay up to date
Found this content useful? Make sure to save it in your bookmarks and come back later as we’ll be keeping this article fresh and up to date.
Plus, we’re in talks with a number of eCommerce platforms, online marketplaces, shipping carriers and other third-party services not on this list to understand how they are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll add new companies as we get new updates.
Are you having trouble getting in touch with a particular eCommerce service provider? Let us know in the comments below and we will do our best to get you the answers you need.
As always, please let us know what content would be useful at this time and help you to navigate the coronavirus crisis by filling out the form on our COVID-19 portal.