Coronavirus ecommerce update: eBay, Amazon, Hermes

By Chris Dawson March 6, 2020 - 10:45 am

With the first death in the UK from the coronavirus being reported today at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, the world of ecommerce is starting to take exceptional steps to mitigate risk from the virus and manage expectations. In our Coronavirus ecommerce update we cover the main impacts sellers might be facing and steps marketplaces are taking.

Realistically we’ve not yet seen the worst in the UK yet and cases are likely to peak in perhaps 4 to 6 week’s time with outbreaks continuing into the early summer. This means that you may face staff shortages as employees self isolate and it’s also worth noting government legislation to pay Statutory sick pay from the first day of sickness rather than from the fourth day of sickness.

Panic buying

Research carried out by Veeqo has revealed that 1 in 4 online retailers turning over £1m+ in revenue in the UK are expecting to see an increase in their sales performance due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Merchants selling across ecommerce websites and on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay reported a sales increase of around 25% – with some experiencing growth of up to 150%.

People choosing to shop online rather than visiting shopping centres and retail stores was cited as the main reason for an increase in ecommerce sales although that hasn’t stopped some consumers from raiding their local supermarket shelves with products as mundane as toilet roll being totally sold out in many stores.

However there is a downside to the uptick in sales, 80% of those Veeqo surveyed said they had experienced difficulty sourcing inventory since the coronavirus outbreak – with delays in supplies coming from China cited as the main reason for this. However, retailers who purchase inventory from the UK supply chain have enjoyed a competitive advantage over their retail rivals who source products exclusively from China but this might not last long – with trade disrupted even products manufactured in the UK often rely on components or raw materials from abroad and many of these will originate in China.

eBay Coronavirus ecommerce update

eBay in the US have now totally banned the sale of certain products having previously warned against price gouging. You can no longer sell the following on

  • Masks including N95/N100 and surgical masks
  • Hand Sanitizer/Gel
  • Disinfecting Wipes

eBay are blocking new listings and starting to remove existing listings for these products as well as removing any listing that mentions COVID-19, coronavirus, 2019nCoV (except books) in the title or description.

Hermes Coronavirus ecommerce update

Hermes has announced it is to make a £1 million pound fund available for its self- employed couriers, to help support them if they need to self-isolate as a result of the coronavirus. It follows concerns about their welfare as self-employed people are not eligible for sick pay. Hermes will also support them in finding someone to deliver on their behalf if they do not have a substitute and guarantee that their rounds will be kept open for them for when they return. This initiative is supported by the GMB Union.

“This is an extraordinary situation and we have taken the decision to help support our couriers financially if they need help and also ensure we are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of the virus. It is simply the right thing to do and I hope that other organisations will follow our lead.”
– Martijn De Lange, CEO at Hermes UK

Amazon Coronavirus ecommerce update

Following the revalation that one Amazon Seattle-based employee has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, Amazon is encouraging all employees to work from home if possible. They’re not messing about – they’ve said to steer clear of the office until the end of March so long as your line manager authorises remote working.

Facebook, Microsoft and Google are also encouraging their employees to work from home.

  • Jim
    1 year ago

    Posties and courier delivery is a really grand way of circulating the nasties
    All those pdas To sign covered in the wee beasties

    • Online Driver
      1 year ago

      Our lot are actually being very slow to react. We just got authorized to deliver with no signature (but only if the person lets us know they are in self isolation), which they will not know to do as their is no clear information on the website. Plus it is all nonsense as most people will not even know they have this anyway.
      Some of the drivers are getting a bit annoyed with the fat cats who won’t risk their own selves but put the staff at risk. We only got issued with hand sanitizer today ( which we all had anyway)…but does not exactly protect you in a enclosed property on delivery if someone sneezes or coughs.
      Government is telling everyone to order online but not taking a blind bit of notice of the people out their delivering.

  • Peter
    1 year ago

    Thanks Ebay, for taking action against price gouging from ruthless sellers who want to profit from people who need these product the most.

    • Peter
      1 year ago

      So now you can’t buy it at all from eBay even at higher price… Thanks eBay for helping spread the disise!

  • Belinda
    1 year ago

    The amount of people we deliver to is putting us delivery drivers front line and spreading germs with everyone signing the hand held

  • Tonesoft
    1 year ago

    I thought Ebay had ban the sale of Hand Sanitizer/Gel well I been and looked its pathetic the prices there charging. Just hope that these seller go out of business when things get back to normal.

  • Thomas Brand
    1 year ago

    Smell my bum

  • Bb
    1 year ago

    Most small sellers of masks are themsrlves having to pay high prices for stock and thus not making excessive profits.

  • Dav
    1 year ago

    There are still thousands of the so-called “banned” items on eBay worldwide. They’re not blocking new listings either. eBay are pathetic frauds and NEVER follow their own policies and you can’t believe anything they say. Mostly it was a PR move. eBay are still profiting off these items and sellers price gouging as well.

  • Rob
    1 year ago

    I am pleased to see that even though Ebay UK are NOT removing way overpriced listings, the Ebay community is at least self policing where they can, ie on auction listings. where several chancers are offering used half empty bottles of hand sanitizers for ridiculous amounts. People are opening extra accounts and bidding silly amounts to thwart the chancers. I wonder if the shysters will actually think they are going to get paid £200 for the 15ml of gel left in their bottles lol.
    I remember when Life Aid tickets were being offered for rip off prices and the community self policed on that one too. Our local BBC Radio station thought all the bids were for real, and actually phoned me for an “On air” comment where I was only too happy to put them right.

  • james
    1 year ago

    So far so good round my way to be fair.
    didn’t even realise there was a toilet paper shortage.
    was at the checkout buying my usual when the sales assistant stocked a display with hand-sanitizer for £1. wouldn’t even bother usually, but when the rest of the country is acting like it’s gold dust… just took the one pack though, didn’t wanna be greedy.
    i’m enjoying laughing at the nonsense elsewhere for now, though i may just be jinxing myself.

    and for those of you complaining about ebay not letting you get price gouged.
    feel free to post your own ad along the lines of “i’m an idiot willing to pay in excess of £20 for £1 worth of alcohol gel.” and they’ll flock to you.

  • Jim
    1 year ago

    The shelf stripping is nuts
    But ignoring the fact we have a virus problem is as stupid as saying the earth is flat or thinking ebay loves us

  • Jacqueline Ballou
    1 year ago

    Ebay continue gouging now cleaners Microban retails for $5.50 selling for $30.00-$50.00 a bottle . You can not find the product anywhere .
    After contacting Microban 24 company in North Carolina I sent him a copy .
    Very sad because now in Michigan the Hospitals are asking people to drop off disinfected cleaners theirs shortage now . This is so wrong please stop them !

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