COVID-19: Nutrition startups fear huge sales hit as Amazon bans non-essential goods

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | Kamonchai mattakulphon
Getty | Kamonchai mattakulphon

Related tags COVID-19

Nutrition startups have voiced fears for their businesses after Amazon announced it is prohibiting shipments of any non-essential goods from its warehouses until at least April 5th in an aim to meet spiralling demand caused by COVID-19.

Amazon has temporarily blocked shipments to its warehouses in the US and Europe of all items other than household essentials, medical supplies and similar high-demand products amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The order does not prevent third party sellers listing and selling other items on Amazon but they must not use Amazon’s services for storing goods, processing orders and handling delivery.

But for small sports nutrition and supplements brands, many of whom rely heavily on Amazon’s services, this could have catastrophic implications.

Joe Welstead, founder of Motion Nutrition​, says his products are in high demand at the moment especially with his Unplug supplement appealing to all those looking for a natural solution to remain calm. But Amazon’s measures may mean he isn’t able to fulfil the rising demand.

“This is frustrating as we have customers telling us how much our products are helping with their mood and energy during self-isolation. We want to make sure we can be there for them.”

He says most businesses will have enough stock with Amazon to last until April 5th​ but they will be all too aware that this date may well be pushed back for many weeks or months to come. 

“Yesterday’s news has added to the pressure as this product is in high demand. We managed to push through some last minute shipments and if Amazon do stick to their timeline of reopening early April, we won’t have any stock issues.”

Welstead does about 15% of his sales through Amazon but he says many brands within this industry will be much, much higher. 

“I think most brands wouldn’t be worried about the date of April 5th - it’s sensible to have at least a month’s worth of stock. But problems will arise when: Amazon might push the date back, Amazon will have a hard time keeping up with everybody re-stocking at the same time.

“During seasonal periods it can take two to three weeks for stock to work its way in and be available. This will cause issues for some brands.

“On the face of it, there’s no problem here. But it’s hard to believe that will stay the case!”

Kara Landau, founder of the good mood food startup named Uplift Food​ says she relies on Amazon for sales of her key gut health promoting product.

“Our Daily Uplifter product is primarily sold through amazon so we are just going to be able to sell the stock we already have in their warehouse.”

She has been investing and working for the past two years to get the next product in her range ready for production and the launch of that product now lies in the balance.

 “We go into production for our Gut Happy Cookies - which offer so many relevant benefits in the stressful environment we find ourselves in - on Monday, and assuming successful I had intended on putting onto amazon straight away - due to the change we will have to only sell on our direct website as we build out other channels.

"This change is not good for any young business. Truly making life very challenging for us all.”

In an explanation on its website Amazon states: “We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one, and we want to make sure our customers can get the items they need, when they need them.

“As COVID-19 has spread, we've recently seen an increase in people shopping online which has had an impact on how we serve our customers. So in the short term, we are making the decision to temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfilment centres so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers.

“Products already on its way to our fulfilment centres will be accepted. This does not impact products being delivered to customers, or products currently in stock in our store. Customers can continue to buy any in-stock product in our store, and we will continue to deliver them.” 

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