So, it is apt and pertinent to comprehend the impact of the Coronavirus on this giant!
A surge in orders:
In the midst of the Pandemic and with the Governments around the world advising people not to leave their homes, the visits to the brick and mortar shops have declined, and ergo, there has been a surge in online orders in the recent months. The size of the surge has been such that the company hired 100,000 new recruits to deal with the same.
Picture: Latest pre-Coronavirus figures for Amazon
While this may look like a happy incident for the company, Amazon would not have complained if the timing could have been a bit different.
Though the company has also advised most of its workers to work from home, but it’s 110 fulfillment centres are still up and running with around 250,000 warehouse employees, who don’t have an option of working from home. (source: CNBC)
Image: Amazon Fulfillment Centre
The problem faced by Amazon:
There have been cases of the warehouse workers testing positive for Coronavirus and as a result, some warehouses had to be closed.
Those which are still functioning have given the option to its workers either to come to the job, or take an indefinite leave, but they will not be paid in the period!
They have given the option of two weeks of paid leave to those who have either tested positive for the virus or are in quarantine.
Image: An Amazon warehouse worker using gloves while working
While some of the workers are happy that they are able to earn at these difficult times, while workers at other companies are not able to make money, most of the workers are battered as they say their employer has not “handled the situation well”.
They told CNBC that there is an overwhelming sense that they’re responsible for their own safety at work, even when the managers claim that they are doing their best about the situation!
The e-commerce giant has claimed to take various steps about the situation, namely making sure that the warehouses are clean, and there is the option of sanitizers and masks for the workers. Apart from that, it has also set up a 25 million dollar relief fund for delivery drivers and seasonal employees and also raising pay at 2 dollar/hour for warehouse workers and delivery drivers.
The workers also have an option of applying for a grant of $400-$500 if they’re diagnosed with the virus.
Image: workers wearing a mask while working
However, even all these measures are not enough to ensure the safety of the workers as the cases of Coronavirus rises amongst them. There are at least 10 facilities in the U.S. that have workers who have tested positive for the virus, and they all remain open!
Overcrowded workspace, rationed supplies for the workers, crunch time to wash hands, and increased working hours have diluted the confidence of the workers on the managing team, even after constant reassurances from Jeff Bezos himself, that they will be working towards improving the conditions.
The challenge for the sellers:
A large portion of the goods sold through the Amazon portal are manufactured in China, and since the advent of the virus in the country, the economic processes there have come to a halt. As a result, the sellers who supply goods to the online portal are running out of stocks of the goods which were their best sellers, consequently the stock they have with Amazon also run out, and the Amazon algorithm is such that those vendors whose stocks are not present are pushed to the bottom of the list, which statistically speaking, has a huge impact on their sales.
Prioritizing space for products which are necessary:
In times of crisis like these, when essentials such as sanitizers, food grains, toilet papers, medial supplies have become mandatory, the company has stopped taking in supplies of any products other than these till the 5th of April, 2020. As a result, many of the vendors whose whole source of income was largely through selling products through this portal are struggling.
Some prep centre owners have reported a decline of their business up to 95 and even 100%
The times have been tough for the Amazon sellers who are now scrambling to find a way to get their products to the customers, at the same time laying off employees, and possibly even stopping operations!
The goods that are sold in Amazon:
Although right now, not a large amount of Chinese products are sold through the portal, there are still those which were not sold off.
The customers are having the speculations whether these products are safe or not. And though the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has clearly stated that the packages and mail from China don’t contain these viruses, speculations continue to mount.
Picture: WHO confirms that the packages have no viruses
Over pricing of products in Amazon:
Taking the benefit of the scarcity faced by the normal public for products like hand sanitizers as their stocks ran out, many companies started to gouge the prices of these products.
Such acts don’t only tarnish Amazon’s image in the eyes of the customers but become problematic for them, too.
Amazon though, has clearly stated that ‘price gouging has no place in our stores’ and have taken strict action against the gougers as well as the products and has terminated 530,000 listings along with 2300 sellers who were a part of this!
Image: Price gouged by some of the sellers
Though the work is anything but done. There are around 600 million product listings on Amazon and they have employed a team who work to find out these cases only and bring them to light!
It is even limiting the number of sellers who can offer these products and motivating customers to report any instances through the app or customer care.
Amazon has grown from strength to strength, but this global pandemic has been one of , if not the greatest challenge it faces.
The problems stated here are merely a reflection of the whole picture and the challenges that lie ahead for them.
What with some products claiming to have false cure of the virus, affects the morale of the public, by providing them with false hopes, though it is working to eradicate this problem as well.
With the controversies piling up with Jeff Bezos when he sold $3.5 billion worth of Amazon shares days before the pandemic hit, the image of the world’s largest company is not the best in the prevalent circumstances!
How do they stand up from this rubble?
That remains to be seen!
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