To assist sellers in this rapidly changing situation, InterCultural Elements has tapped its international resources to give you updates on delivery services and marketplaces. In the effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, new rules and measures are announced daily and it’s important for sellers to stay on top of them to ensure the smoothest possible running of your business. This article gives the latest suggestions for sellers on Amazon, eBay & Cdiscount and the most current information on delivery services in Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the UK.
Mar. 30 updates
Bartolini in Italy (BRT) resumed their pick-up & delivery activities in the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia. Sellers working with BRT can stay on top of the service update here.
If you sell on Amazon…
…and are worried how the material impact of Covid-19 would have a negative effect on your seller performance, the marketplace announced on Mar.21 that it would relax its policies for shipping-related Performance metrics. Since then, Amazon has decided they will no longer accept shipments from sellers on non-essential products on Amazon.it and Amazon.fr, and as of Mar. 24, the marketplace has further extended the new policy to include UK and India. This allows the fulfillment centers to focus on delivering medical supplies and other essentials that are really important to the public. For the sellers, however, this means you’re cut off from FBA temporarily and you’ll need to explore alternatives if you wish to continue selling in these countries.
The policies have taken a sharp turn since the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases raised. The country has been in lockdown since Mar. 23 with police enforcement.
If you decided to partner up with a carrier company, note that there might be changes to their shipping schedule and delivery policies. GLS, for example, will no longer accept parcel over 30 Kg, as it takes 2 people to carry those items and the company cannot guarantee the safe distance between their couriers.
DPD has created a bulletin with daily updates for sellers that wish to ship with them.
- Suspended its Pickup Shop Network since Mar.24 to comply with the UK government’s advice to close non-essential shops
- Offers a range of contact free delivery options
In case where local and regional authorities decide to lock down municipalities as “red zones”, shipments will be suspended in those territories and carriers won’t be able to deliver products until restrictions are lifted. If you reside in the red zones and are using seller-fulfilled shipments, you may want to activate the ‘on holiday’ feature or extend your handling time as clarified above.
If you don’t live the red zones, Poste Italiane, SDA, GLS, UPS and BRT are operating as usual. Signatures are no longer needed for some couriers at delivery in order to ensure minimum contact; there may be no depot availability and parcels will be returned to senders. Please refer to the courier’s website for the most updated information, and don’t forget to extend your handling time where appropriate.
Two main carriers are still in operation with some limitations and service changes.
- LA POSTE
- Simple or tracked mail, Colissimo without signature will be left in the recipient’s mailbox.
- Colissimo with signature or registered letters: recipients will receive an SMS from the mail carrier asking for permission to leave the parcel in the mailbox/in front of the recipient’s door. Recipients have to answer the SMS in order to receive the parcel. If no answer is received, the parcel will be stored for collection.
- Customers with a LaPoste account are asked to provide their current phone numbers.
- Alternatives to sending letters/parcels are offered to avoid going to the post office.
- If customers really need to go to the post office, it’s important they have the certificate of exceptional travel (attestation de déplacement dérogatoire) with them and the box “travel to make purchases of primary necessity” (déplacement pour effectuer des achats de 1ère nécessité) is ticked.
- 1,600 post offices will be open and 40% of pickup relay network will be operative
- Customers are asked to choose another delivery method as several post offices and relay points are closed at the moment. Recipients are asked to provide phone numbers in order to be contacted upon delivery.
- The transport of goods is subject to government directives.
- If delivery is prohibited in an area by prefectorial orders, Chronopost won’t deliver to these areas. Parcels will be held at the nearest Chronopost agency pending the lifting of the prefectoral directive. After 14 days, the parcel will be returned to the sender.
- If a parcel has been delivered to a closed Pickup Relay and customer did not pick it up before closure, the parcel will remain there and be available for collection once the relay point is re-opened.
- Parcels in transit will be made available in an open relay, the recipient will receive a notification including all contact details of this relay. If no nearby relay is open, the parcel will be returned to the sender.
- In case the recipient is not present at the time of delivery, a second delivery attempt will take place.
It’s recommended that you stay in regular contact with your partner carrier and monitor the shipping schedule closely.
While the whole country remains in lockdown (as of Mar. 26), major carriers except Correos continue to operate despite the state of emergency. Here’s a glimpse to what each company offers:
- Correos suspended all private shipments across their national network on March 19
- Correos Express will continue its service uninterrupted and signatures are no longer required upon receiving.
- SEUR will continue to operate.
- UPS will continue to operate but have warned the customers about potential delays
- Recipients are no longer required to sign for letters or parcels.
- Some deliveries may not be possible due to the closure of businesses, or restrictions in various postcodes, in which case parcels will be returned to sender.
- Shipments to UPS Access Point locations could be impacted as most shops have been ordered to close until further notice.
- Restrictions in some areas of the country continue, so all shipments arriving for these areas will be automatically returned to the sender. Please check the GLS website for the affected postal codes or locations.
- Deliveries in ParcelShop (PS), points of convenience, have been suspended and time for the collection of parcels currently held in the pickup points is extended to 30 calendar days.
Key players such as Deutsche Post/DHL, Hermes and DPD are business as usual and have waived the requirement for customer signatures upon delivery. DHL and Hermes customers are encouraged to choose a preferred location for receiving their parcels to avoid contacts. DPD’s “Abstell-Okay” service allows the driver to leave the parcel in places that are directly accessible to customers, for example in the garden shed, the garage or by the apartment entrance. For small parcels, DPD will simply drop them off in the recipient’s mailbox.
Although customers can still buy on Amazon, these purchases could be subject to restrictions and shipment delays depending on the carrier you partner with. As a general practice, if you’re unable to process customer orders, please activate the ‘on holiday’ feature in your Seller Central. If you are unable to fulfill confirmed orders, you should cancel the orders and inform your customers.
If you sell on eBay
eBay’s taken the necessary measures to ensure their seller’s performance won’t be impacted due to delays or interruptions of delivery services. The marketplace has promised to protect their sellers’ accounts from being downgraded from Seller performance standard evaluation until the 20 June evaluation.
It’s always recommended that you notify the customers immediately if there are delays in delivery for your orders. And if your business is temporarily closed because of Covid-19, take the following steps as suggested by eBay:
- Shop subscribers
- Activate holiday settings and hide your fixed price listings in eBay search until you return
- Manually extend your handling times in case customers still place orders (for example if the item was in their basket before you activated holiday settings). Auction listings will continue to run for the set duration.
- All sellers: you can leave your listings active and manually increase the handling time. Your buyers can still shop with you, but the overall delivery time will be longer and reflected on your listings.
- Activate the ‘Out of stock’ option: Once you set the stock of your Good ‘til Cancelled listings to 0, your listings will disappear from eBay searches and you’ll protect your sales history for when you’re ready to start trading again.
UK sellers who use Royal Mail should note that for items posted from Thursday 19 March 2020 onwards, the carrier will no longer guarantee deliveries by 1 pm the next working day.
If you sell on Cdiscount
The French marketplace is taking the initiative to ensure effective delivery by sellers. Sellers can cancel orders if you are unable to deliver or if you have any doubts about the capacity of your carrier. Your quality rates will be impacted but the marketplace won’t take any suspensive action on cancellation indicators. Cdiscount’s Quality Team may put certain accounts in holiday mode if they believe the shop is facing difficulties. This is to prevent sellers from having to cancel new orders which might lead to account suspension.
As of Mar. 16, Fulfillment by Cdiscount continues to handle shipments, however, express home delivery is now a favorable option since half of the collection points are closed.
As the Covid-19 situation evolves, it’s difficult to say how the rules and recommendations will change for marketplaces and delivery companies in the near future. We recommend sellers to check closely on the new development and adjust your response accordingly. With over 10 different nationalities in-house here in Leipzig, Germany, InterCultural Elements will be your eyes on the ground to bring you more information on the latest marketplaces and delivery service developments.