Amazon has had a hard time keeping up with the demand for medical and cleaning supplies -- such as masks and hand sanitizer -- due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is hoping to increase its supply of such goods by restricting which items its third-party vendors can send to its warehouses. Independent merchants will be unable to ship items other than medical supplies and household staples to Amazon's warehouses and fulfillment centers until April 5th. The company hopes that this strategy will help to "more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers," according to a statement sent to vendors.
Amazon relies heavily on third-party vendors to maintain its vast selection of goods. However, even a giant company like Amazon only has a limited amount of warehouses. By assigning more shelf space to medical supplies and household cleaning items, the company can increase its inventory and customers can ideally avoid going to the store and risk transmitting or contracting the COVID-19 virus.
This could take a toll on vendors, though. Many merchants faced difficulties in prior months, as Chinese factories closed due to coronavirus concerns. Now that several of those factories are back up and running, the vendors have large amounts of products that they won't be able to store at Amazon's facilities. While it may be the right move for Amazon to prioritize the storage, sale and fulfillment of medical supplies and household goods, this is a clear example of how the coronavirus pandemic can hurt small businesses.