When Even Amazon Is Sold Out of Exploding Kittens
“I don’t know the logistics of running a warehouse,” she said, “but it does make me rethink what I do need to order.”
Adding to the confusion is that not every product is available to all shoppers. For some items, like toilet paper, Amazon has given priority to members of its Prime service with recurring orders. It has earmarked supplies for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivery, which do not use Amazon’s main warehouses. With more demand for those grocery services than it can fulfill, it has started a wait list for new customers.
Other items, like medical gloves and Purell, show up in searches but are largely available from Amazon’s warehouses to organizations like hospitals and local governments.
In recent weeks, Amazon has run fewer ads on Google that drive customers to its site when they search for products. It is paying less to media sites that review products that refer customers to its listings. On its own home page, Amazon removed the prominent “Shop Deals of the Day” button and for weeks has featured streaming video and book downloads rather than product promotions.
“They are trying to reduce demand, which is borderline insane, but I guess that is where we are,” said Juozas Kaziukenas, chief executive of the e-commerce research firm Marketplace Pulse. “This event has broken everything.”
“This is an exceptional situation,” Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for corporate affairs, said in an interview in late March. “So in response to that, we had to make exceptions to our normal approach to serving our customers.”
Kate Scarpa, an Amazon spokeswoman, said the company was one of many playing a critical role in the crisis. It is regularly updating its processes “to ensure we can provide a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable,” she said. “We know that people are depending on us.”