eCommerce has grown rapidly in the past year. That’s especially true for Amazon. However, that growth spurt was accompanied by plenty of growing pains.
Increased demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to shipping restrictions last spring. Later in the year, Amazon introduced ASIN-level quantity limits for select FBA products. With a limited number of units per ASIN eligible to send to Amazon, many sellers found themselves pivoting quickly to ship to their own warehouse or a 3PL instead of directly to FBA.
Now ASIN-level limits have been discontinued. Instead, restock limits are calculated at the account level and by storage type. This change went into effect in April 2021, as sellers are preparing for Prime Day, leaving many scrambling to adapt once again.
Amazon lists four main storage type categories: standard-size, oversize, apparel, and footwear. Restock limits are based on these storage types as well as past and forecasted sales.
Standard-size: Weighs 20 lbs or less, not to exceed dimensions of 18” x 14” x 8”
Oversize: Exceeds weight and/or dimensions listed for standard-size
Apparel: Wearable clothing and accessory items
Footwear: Shoes, boots, slippers, etc.
New Challenges for FBA Sellers
While the removal of ASIN-level quantity limits is a relief for many, Amazon’s new restock limits present new difficulties, particularly for high volume sellers and seasonal items. Because this change was implemented without advance notice, many sellers were completely blindsided amid Prime Day preparations.
Restock limits vary based on past and forecasted sales, but this causes complications for sellers with popular seasonal items. Previous sales data doesn’t show the need for higher restock limits, meaning sellers might not be able to send in as much inventory as they expect to sell during busy seasons.
Supply chain disruptions are particularly tough for those who source products from China, India, or elsewhere. After all, it’s difficult and costly to make changes to shipments that are already on the water, and lead times for manufacturing and shipping can take months.
Many sellers expressed frustration in a Seller Forums thread, noting that advance communication about this change would have allowed them time to prepare. Some were concerned about how the restock limit change would impact product launch plans.
One seller mentioned that it seems like it would be more effective to send a single larger shipment to Amazon rather than sending shipments of the same product every few days; however, to stay in stock, smaller shipments it is. The risk of going out of stock and seeing a ranking decline with Prime Day on the horizon is too great.