On Tuesday Amazon told sellers it would be suspending shipment of all non-essential products to its warehouses and would be prioritizing products such as baby product, health and personal care, grocery, and pet supplies through mid-April.
This follows a move by Amazon late last week to significantly reduce its presence across Google Shopping and text ads, which is now nearly nonexistent in the US across a variety of product categories.
Amazon’s Google Shopping Impression Share Faded Starting in Late January, but is now Nonexistent for Many Advertisers
The chart below shows Amazon’s impression share against Tinuiti clients advertising in different product categories between January 2019 and the first week of March using Google Auction Insights reports. As you can see, after months of climbing in Google Shopping visibility throughout 2019, Amazon seemed to abruptly change course towards the end of January 2020 across many product categories and was less prevalent through the first week of March.
Zooming in at a daily level for the month of March across the same advertisers, Amazon is now no longer present in Shopping.
Further, Amazon appears to have also essentially turned off all of its text ads after March 11, and while it maintains a very light text ad impression share against some advertisers in a scattering of categories, it has vanished altogether for many.
Given Amazon’s focus on stocking and delivering the products that are most essential to responding to the current events unfolding as a result of Coronavirus, its decision to pause advertising for these categories, many of which are non-essential, makes sense. As shown by the recent news that Amazon will be hiring 100,000 warehouse workers and delivery drivers, it’s clear that current events are putting a strain on its ability to meet the demands of consumers who are now largely staying inside and ordering online as much as possible.
Amazon has had an off and on relationship with Google Shopping ads in particular over the years, first refusing to participate in the format for several years up until late 2016 when it waded in with a focus on home goods. Since then its presence has grown meaningfully, and Q4 2019 marked the quarter with its most expansive presence yet. This has come with some starts and stops, such as when it paused Shopping for two weeks in early 2018 and turned them off around its Prime Day event this past year, but the overall evidence from 2019 was that it was fully leaning into Shopping ads.
Recent events have forced advertisers to evaluate current media plans and adjust in the short term to a new reality. Amazon is just one such advertiser, albeit one of the largest. In its place, other advertisers now have greater ability to reach consumers through Google ads, and many continue to invest heavily across Google Shopping and text ads to reach consumers as they head indoors and online.
With regards to Amazon’s move to prioritize essential products, it should be clear that Amazon is not “suspending sales” on items with this announcement, but rather that Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) as a reliable fulfillment option will be temporarily impacted for those Sellers not selling products in the categories listed in the announcement. Sellers deploying Fulfillment by Merchant (FBM) or Seller-fulfilled Prime (SFP) are not relying or leveraging Amazon’s fulfillment network and can thus continue to operate on their own resources, assuming they are set up to do so.
1P Retail Vendors will not readily have FBM or SFP options available unless and until they are operating as a hybrid with a Seller Central account. For those Vendors, they are still able to use dropship fulfillment as a method to fulfill orders while Amazon is prioritizing health-related products. Retail Vendors should also expect to see a pause in PO’s for products that are not household staples, medical supplies, or other high demand products.
You can read more about how to think through the update to prioritize essential products in our blog here.