COVID-19 has upended the world and altered life as we know it. What specific changes to inventory management have Amazon sellers experienced as a result of the pandemic? Noah Gross, founder and CEO of Refund Sniper, tells us his thoughts on the good, the bad and the ugly of the current reality for sellers on Amazon.

Amazon sellers are seeing greater volume than ever before. The “online shopping learning curve” has certainly been flattened by people being afraid to go out and shop in stores, and those effects look like they are here to stay. During the pandemic, however, Amazon adjusted certain things with the way sellers operate and recently, they changed how restock limits work. Amazon now allows restock in limited quantities per category (regular items, oversize footwear, apparel to name a few).  

A challenge for sellers is Amazon’s automatic cancellation of shipments that exceed the allowed inventory limit. This happens even in instances when the system allowed you to create the shipments in the first place. For example, if a seller creates a shipment for 100 units and then another for 120 units, the second shipment will be automatically cancelled — and many times it is while the goods are already on their way to Amazon. This has created a nightmare of inventory marked as unaccounted for, as the goods have been sent in but do not exist in Amazon’s system. At Refund Sniper, where we specialize in inventory reconciliation and audits for Amazon sellers, we’ve been busy addressing claims of this nature ever since the restock limit began.

Many time limits have also been “temporarily” put on hold. For example, when a seller created a removal order (calling back returns or overstock inventory from the Amazon warehouse) before the pandemic, Amazon gave a 10- to 14-day window for that order to be processed. If there was an issue after that point, you can reconcile the issue for a reimbursement. However, now Amazon has made it quite difficult to process those claims, indicating that, due to COVID-19, removal orders can now take 30 days or longer. Amazon has also lengthened its “window of research” regarding inbound shipments, giving itself more time before a shipment becomes eligible for reconciliation.

Of course, with the increased volume of sales coming through the Amazon platform, along with the ever-changing rules and updates based on the pandemic, comes a potential increase in inventory discrepancy issues. In Refund Sniper’s experience, as volume increases, so does the amount of unassigned inventory. More inventory passing through the Amazon warehouse system creates more potential for things to go wrong. Based on discussions with our sellers over time, we have found that an Amazon seller’s inventory discrepancies can account for between 2%-4% of their Amazon inventory. As a company’s inventory goes missing, so do their profits. Refund Sniper has been assisting its clients, through all the upheaval, to ensure that every unit sent to Amazon is identified and reconciled. And when it is not, we make sure the seller gets reimbursed. While this may be a busy and profitable era for Amazon sellers overall, we want to make sure it stays that way!

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