Every Friday, we answer a common question about fulfillment, shipping, or business. This week’s question comes from one of the fans who entered our giveaway contest for a Roku. Today we will answer the following question: “why are my Amazon shipments delayed right now?”
The simple answer is “because of the coronavirus.” But that seems a bit too easy, doesn’t it? In this post, we explain why the coronavirus is causing Amazon shipments to be delayed.
Safety measures slow down operations
According to Amazon, the company is taking several measures to protect their workforce. The company says that every day, the company tests hundreds of thousands of employees for fevers. If employees show symptoms, the company sends them home. They are distributing masks throughout the Amazon and Whole Foods network.
On top of that, each location is being heavily sanitized. Reports say that the size of the janitorial staff on payroll tripled. Stand-up meetings have been eliminated and social distancing is encouraged.
These are all good measures and Amazon deserves credit for implementing them. Of course, safety measures may be reducing the efficiency of operations, which is everything to Amazon. But you can’t exactly eliminate safety measures!
People are getting sick
How well Amazon’s safety measures are working is unknown. Even if they did everything perfectly in the warehouse, though, some employees would inevitably still get sick by picking up the virus in other places. That’s precisely what’s happening, and over 50 Amazon warehouses have had at least one employee with a confirmed case of coronavirus.
Some people are sick, others are afraid of getting sick. This is causing attendance to drop dramatically in Amazon warehouses, which is another contributing factor in long delivery windows.
There is a massive spike in demand for eCommerce
As if dealing with the pandemic weren’t already enough, stay-at-home orders issued throughout the country have massively changed consumers’ buying habits. Instead of buying goods at local stores like normal, many people purchase online because they’re not leaving the house. Amazon, being the world’s largest online retailer, is the first place many people check.
Let’s take a moment to add all these factors up. Take a company and force them to make process changes on short notice. Cut out a large percentage of their workers due to illness or fear of illness. On top of that, dramatically increase the amount of work that needs to be done. Keeping quality of service normal in a time like this is borderline impossible, even if you do everything right.
There is an even more massive spike in demand for specific items
Finally, on top of everything else we just mentioned, massive spikes in demand for specific items sent the supply chain into a tailspin. Who could have predicted, at the beginning of the year, that toilet paper would be scarce? In what world is a 70% increase in food purchases, particularly non-perishables, an expected outcome?
Even among those who feared the virus from the very beginning of the year, no one could have predicted which items would be in hot demand. That means many warehouses simply don’t have enough items in stock, leading to multi-week delays.
Final Thoughts on Why Amazon Shipments are Delayed
Amazon is at the forefront of eCommerce in a time when people desperately need eCommerce. At the same time, their standard way of doing business changed out of sheer necessity while their workforce dwindled. All while common items were going out of stock. It’s a classic no-win scenario.