Zebra, a client of Amazon agency VASO Group, showcases their notebook and pens

As we all muscle through this pandemic together, making sacrifices and shifting priorities for ourselves and our families, Amazon has likewise prioritized certain types of items as “essential” and “non-essential.” Responding to demand, Amazon has focused on getting necessities like food, household supplies, cleaners and medical basics to its customers who are practicing social distancing. So what about the “non-essentials”? While fulfillment centers may continue to ship “non-essential” items from what they currently have in stock, restocking has been paused for many items. In fact, Vendor Central and Seller Central stopped ordering non-essential items on March 16th.

Maintaining Your Foothold

Your Amazon ranking is hard-won and enables customers to find your products to fulfill their needs and solve their problems. It may seem like a wise plan to take the lead from Amazon and focus on your essential offerings, waiting for things to level off with the pandemic before worrying about non-essential products.

The better plan is to keep your items alive so they don’t drop off page one of Amazon search results. You won’t just preserve sales in the short term, you’ll preserve them down the road. It’s always less expensive to maintain your space than to try to climb back up to it.

The pandemic may make it difficult to bring back the same level of business you’ve lost in the past few weeks. It’s time to mitigate losses and think of alternative ways to bridge the span from now to the return of business.

Drop Ship: a Saving Grace

While Amazon isn’t handling your non-essentials, you can still get your products into customers’ hands. Using the drop ship option may cost a little more out of pocket but it helps you maintain your ranking.

In Vendor Central, Amazon will pick the freight up from you and deliver it to the end user. Many vendors may not be aware of it, but every Vendor Central account is set up with drop ship as an option. Find your dormant drop ship vendor code to access this feature. If you can’t find it, contact us, and we’ll help you set it up.

In Seller Central Merchant Fulfilled Network (MFN), you as a vendor will pay for freight to the end user. In Seller Central Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP), you’re still paying for shipping but you’re enabled as a Prime shipper. By default, you can turn any item on for drop shipping.

Prioritizing Your Drop Ship Products

You may not be able to drop ship everything in your catalog. Focus on what’s selling, what Amazon inventory is low, and what people need. Shift your marketing strategy to promote the items you can drop ship. 

Prioritize your drop ship for the individual user at home. Think creatively about your catalog, and how you might fill your customer’s needs for homeschooling, electronic learning, and setting up an education space for their children. Consider what they need for a newly-established home office. 

Think about your items that are season-sensitive. Dated goods, consumables or items with an expiration date like ink cartridges may not be deemed essential by Amazon, but you don’t have a lot of time to wait for their status to change–and neither do your customers who need them! By moving these goods, you might just be saving jobs and helping the community. 

One advantage of drop shipping right now is you may get your products to the end user before Amazon can. This puts you at an advantage over those who are dependent upon Amazon for all of their fulfillment. As an added bonus, customers who are delighted by the quick turnaround may contribute to your positive ratings and reviews, further supporting your position on page one.

With half the planet on lockdown, new needs for sheltering in place arise every day. Social distancing has us all seeking normalcy and beauty, giving us hope for the days beyond COVID-19. Just because Amazon doesn’t think your goods are essential right now doesn’t mean that your customers feel the same way.

If your logistics infrastructure does not allow you to drop ship today, reach out to us and we can recommend a few who can possibly service you.