First, Amazon throttled back
on the inventory it would accept from FBA sellers this month. Now it's temporarily waiving fees for sellers who wish to clear out inventory that's already stored in its FBA Fulfillment Centers.
In an email to sellers on Thursday, Amazon said the new promotion was designed to "free up space for products that are selling fast."
One doesn't have to wonder if Amazon's warehouses are getting full - the company's Chief Financial Officer said so in January. Here's what we wrote
in this January 29th Newsflash article titled, "Amazon Warehouses Burst at the Seams in Q4 2015":
Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky said it was a strong quarter for FBA sellers. "It did put a lot of demand on our warehouses, and we were full," and he said it exceeded Amazon's expectations. Amazon noted that for the full year 2015, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) shipped over one billion units on behalf of sellers.
The signs had all pointed to a busy fulfillment season for Amazon - in one case, one of its fulfillment centers clogged up local traffic to the point the mayor threatened to close down the warehouse unless the company figured out a way to alleviate traffic. (It did, and the warehouse remained open.)
In other cases, sellers complained that goods they sent to FBA warehouses were stuck in limbo, unable to be checked in by Amazon's receiving department.
At first blush, the news Amazon sent FBA sellers on Thursday about its promotion to clean out inventory is good news - it's in sellers' interest to recall inventory that's just sitting on shelves for which they are paying storage fees. And typically Amazon charges a fee for disposing of or returning such inventory.
But it's one more sign to sellers that it may become increasingly difficult to get their goods into FBA fulfillment centers - at least until Amazon builds more. In the past weeks it announced plans for a new 800,000-plus square-foot fulfillment center in Kansas and a new 1.1 million square-foot FC in California.
Here's the gist of the current promotion mailed to sellers:
"You may have slow-moving or low-selling inventory. Starting today, March 31, 2016, FBA is waiving fees for any removal order for return or disposal of your inventory that is currently in U.S. fulfillment centers. This promotion ends April 30, 2016, after which time normal removal-order fees will apply.
"If you remove units as part of this promotion for which you paid a Long-Term Storage Fee in February 2016, we will reimburse 66% of the fee that you paid per cubic foot for those units."