Waiving fees, relaxing policies: Amazon India announces steps to help sellers hit due to coronavirus lockdown
As the world faces a challenge like never before – a calamity that has affected human life and is also impacting businesses of all sizes – ecommerce major Amazon has announced that it is taking six major steps to mitigate the negative impact on sellers’ business due to the coronavirus-led lockdown.
In a one-on-one telecon with YourStory, Gopal Pillai, VP, Seller Services, Amazon India said that since a significant number of Amazon India’s 600,000 sellers include micro-entrepreneurs, small and medium businesses, as well as women sellers, artisans and weavers and many more, the ecommerce giant is taking several steps to support and stand by its seller partners in this tough situation and help them navigate through this challenge.
Gopal Pillai, VP, Seller Services, Amazon India
These steps include 50 percent waiver on Selling on Amazon (SoA) fees till the end of June 2020. The SoA, or the referral fee, is a fee that all sellers pay for selling their products on Amazon. This fee is a percentage of the total sales price that is paid by the buyer. Gopal tells that this waiver will apply to all sellers whose average GMS (Gross Merchandise Sales) for January and February 2020 is Rs 10,000 or below. And that the waiver stands to benefit tens of thousands of sellers listed on Amazon India.
Besides this, the ecommerce giant is also waiving of storage fees for the sellers. This applies to all the sellers on Amazon India’s platform till April 30. The sellers who have stored their inventory with Amazon on a long-term basis or need to store the other lower priority items at our Fulfillment Centre until further notice on the lockdown; Amazon will not charge the Long Term Storage Fee for March and April 2020. This also includes inventory that might get delayed/returned because of the ongoing nationwide lockdown and restrictions on the movement of goods and people.
“This will benefit sellers who use our FBA services and store their inventory in our infrastructure,” says Gopal.
Due to prioritising essential deliveries such as food items, groceries, medicine and healthcare items, Amazon had to cancel orders containing lower priority items in the last few weeks. Hence, to reduce the impact of these cancellations on its seller partners, Amazon has refunded all fulfilment and referral fees for such cancelled orders to the sellers.
The company is also relaxing account performance metrics for the sellers. Gopal tells that Amazon India is also relaxing its performance metrics policies around order cancellation and returns to better support its seller partners through this period. And, the relaxation will stay in place till the situation returns to normalcy.
Amazon India will also let sellers claim reimbursements for returned, lost, or damaged items. Earlier, a seller had to claim the reimbursement within a week or a month for such orders, but now the company has relaxed the claim and reimbursement policy. “This has been done to ensure that sellers’ reimbursement claims are not denied if they miss the regular claim windows due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. This is valid till end of May and we will give our seller partners a 30-day notice before rolling this back,” tells Gopal.
Amazon India has also started an initiative called Priority Wish list programme which aims at rewarding the seller partners.
“This programme is to encourage and reward our seller partners for bringing in more and more high priority products into our fulfilment centres. As part of this initiative, we are also providing special incentives to sellers for every unit of priority products they inbound into the fulfilment centres. These priority items include products from food, groceries, medicines and healthcare categories,” tells Gopal.
These incentives are in the range of Rs 23-35 per unit. However, these rewards are applicable till the end of May 2020.
“We are working round-the-clock on refining this list and are looking at adding products to best serve our customers,” said Gopal.
Gopal tells that despite difficulties in making the shops operational, not getting the needed workforce to stay operational amid lockdown, the biggest thing is the optimism of the sellers.
“Sellers are showing a great attitude towards the future, to see how they can move forward and how they can come back faster on the marketplace, reactivate their listings, add more collection and how they can rely on us to start their businesses again. So, there is a lot of optimism in sellers mindset, even though they are all impacted significantly,” says Gopal.
The Ministry of Home Affairs has allowed the movement of vehicles belonging to ecommerce companies with effect from April 20. Companies like Amazon andwould be thus, allowed to deliver non-essential items as well.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his third address amid the lockdown, announced that the 21-day countrywide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be extended till May 3. PM Modi said that there would be strict enforcement of lockdown regulations till April 20, and that there could be some easing after that, depending on the situation in each state.
According to the guidelines, all facilities in the supply chains of essential goods, whether involved in manufacturing, wholesale or retail of such goods through local stores, large brick and mortar stores or ecommerce companies, will be allowed to operate from April 20.