As millions more Americans turned to online shopping during the pandemic, Amazon struggled to keep up with the demand, and its rivals pounced. Target’s online sales shot up 141 percent last quarter, while Walmart’s rose 74 percent. Etsy’s were up almost 80 percent in April.
Now Amazon is saying enough is enough.
The company is shipping many more items in a day or two and is again running promotions. It has removed limits on the types of products allowed in its warehouses. And while it has delayed its annual Prime Day, Amazon is preparing for an earlier “Summer Sale” to let brands sell excess inventory, according to an audio recording of an internal meeting discussing the promotion.
The changes position Amazon to recapture its customers who had fled elsewhere when the outbreak took hold. And the moves signal that Amazon’s leaders feel confident that the business, and in particular its shipping network, is no longer in crisis mode in response to the pandemic.
“They eliminated their own competitive advantage they had built over 20 years,” said John Ghiorso, who runs Orca Pacific, an agency that helps brands run their Amazon business. “Now they are getting it back pretty quickly.”
Amazon remains by far the country’s biggest online retailer. But the coronavirus put the tech giant in a new spot: on its heels. The surge of orders overwhelmed its operations, forcing the company to dampen demand and slow shipping on many items from a few days to almost a month. Jeff Bezos, its chief executive, has retaken day-to-day control of operations during the crisis.
While Amazon’s sales