UK coronavirus advice for online sellers & retailers: FAQs

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UK coronavirus advice for online sellers & retailers: FAQs

Post by Expandly on 27th March 2020

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There’s a lot of information buzzing around right now and it can be difficult for online sellers and retailers to keep up.

To help, we’ve created this coronavirus FAQ for online sellers and retailers, answering the common questions you have at the moment.

We’ll be updating this guide as and when new information is released. If you have a question not answered by this guide, please email us at [email protected].

Can eCommerce companies continue to operate?

Yes. With the closure of physical non-essential retail stores, the UK government is actively encouraging people to purchase items online.

However, you should be allowing employees to work from home where possible, taking advantage of cloud-based tools and remote working functionalities.

Can my physical store or stall continue to operate?

It depends. Retail stores selling essential products can remain others – all other stores must close with immediate effect until otherwise notified.

Essential retail stores include:

-Supermarkets and food shops

-Pharmacies and chemists

-Petrol stations

-Bicycle shops

-Hardware shops and hire

-Corner shops and newsagents

-Pet shops

-Off-licences

-Laundrettes and dry cleaners

-Vehicle rental services

-Car garages and repair shops

Are UK postal and delivery services still operating during the lockdown?

Yes. Shipping carriers are still collecting and delivering eCommerce order in the UK.

There may be some delay in product delivery times, owing to increasing demand, but deliveries are continuing. 

However, you should be actively reducing the amount of human contact involved in shipping your products during the coronavirus outbreak. This includes pre-printing shipping labels and address labels and using parcel drop-off services where available. 

Is Amazon FBA still operating during lockdown?

Partially. Amazon FBA has suspended shipments of non-essential FBA inventory until 5 April. This is to allow Amazon time to focus on delivering essential items during the pandemic, including medical supplies and household products.

Non-essential FBA inventory includes any item falling outside of the following categories:

-Baby products

-Health and household

-Beauty and personal care

-Grocery

-Industrial and scientific

-Pet supplies.

You can find out more about the suspension here

Alternatives to Amazon FBA include Seller Fulfiled Prime, Fulfiled by Merchant and alternative 3PLs.  

Are Click & Collect services still available?

It depends. eBay’s Click & Collect points are unavailable in standalone Argos stores but still operating within Sainsburys and CollectPlus locations. 

Are there any restrictions on selling coronavirus-related products. 

Yes. There are restrictions in place on all the large marketplaces.

For example, on eBay titles and descriptions that contain health claims or that misuse terms such as Coronavirus, Covid 19, virus, pandemic etc. are prohibited, as are over-inflated prices that attempt to profit from the outbreak. 

Heavy restrictions on products including baby milk and formula, face masks, hand sanitisers, tampons, toilet roll and cleaning wipes are also in place. Only a small number of approved Business sellers will be permitted to sell these items. 

Is there any financial help available for online sellers?

Yes. Even if you’re not eligible for government support, there are other ways to save money during the lockdown. 

eBay is allowing sellers to defer selling fees for 30 days, while Amazon FBA is waiving long-term storage fees and pausing repayments on loans through Amazon Lending. 

Which upcoming eCommerce events have been cancelled or postponed?

Lots. We’ve updated our 2020 eCommerce events calendar, but you should note the following changes in particular:

eTail Asia moved now 4 – 6 August 2020

Internet World Expo now 13 October 2020

eBay UpFront Detroit now 24 September 2020

One to One now 30 – 2 July 2020

Shoptalk now 14 – 17 September 2020

Digital Sales Summit cancelled new date TBC

Internet Retailing Expo now 2 – 3 September 2020

BrightonSEO now 1 – 2 October 2020

Richmond Retail now 28 September 2020

RetailEXPO 2020 cancelled

Drapers Digital Festival now 7 October 2020

MAU Vegas cancelled new date TBC

Sellers Summit 2020 now online

ECD now 13 October 2020

Future Stores now 20-21 October 2020

Ecom Expo ‘20 now 19 – 20 August 2020

Ecommerce Summit now 28-29 September 2020

Emerce E-Commerce Live! Now 2 November 2020

We’ll be updating this FAQ with more advice as and when it becomes available.

In the meantime, stay safe.