- Amazon notified customers that it is out of stock of some household staples on its website as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has ramped up online shopping on the company's website. The company also said that delivery times are also being extended on some orders.
- Along with availability, the e-commerce giant said it blocked "tens of thousands of items" from its site to ensure "no one artificially raises prices on basic need products during this pandemic." The statement follows reports of sellers price gouging on health-related products by third-party-sellers, including on Amazon's site.
- At its physical stores, Amazon joined Target and Walmart in notifying customers that it has "enhanced" its daily cleaning procedures, and it is also doing additional nightly cleaning.
As category and specialty retailers grapple with traffic declines amid a pandemic, mass merchants and grocers are trying to manage an onslaught of demand from panicked shoppers stocking up on key staples.
Costco CFO Richard Galanti said earlier in March that the procurement team is "working, in some cases, around the clock to procure supplies for both existing suppliers and from other sources where possible" to keep up with the demand created by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Amazon echoed those assurances in its statement to consumers. "We are working around the clock with our selling partners to ensure availability on all of our products, and bring on additional capacity to deliver all of your order," Amazon said in a statement dated Saturday.
The run on household supplies prompted some retailers, including Target, to place limits on how many key products shoppers can buy in a purchasing trip.
CEO Brian Cornell told analysts earlier in March that customers were ramping up their shopping. Target has seen "stock up on household essentials, disinfectants, food and beverage items, all those staple items that the CDC has recommended they add to their pantry."
The demand surge is an added disruption to Amazon and other mass merchants. Sellers on Amazon's marketplace have reportedly struggled to bring goods into the country, as the virus spread through China, tightening its manufacturing capacity.
But Amazon — as a provider of staples and as the country's largest e-commerce player in an moment marked by closing stores, falling foot traffic, and "social distancing" — is also well-positioned to weather the current environment.
For e-commerce, coronavirus "will be like adding jet fuel to an already exploding segment of retail," Doug Stephens, author of "Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World," told Retail Dive earlier this month. "Amazon and a handful of others will be the beneficiaries of a windfall."