Welcome to our latest eCommerce and logistics news roundup!

This week, we’re debating whether Amazon’s delay warnings could be the result of virus-fuelled panic-buying; discussing how H&M’s new supply chain consultancy could spur sustainability in fashion; and why the resumption of production in China is fuelling a spike in air freight costs.

And, in case you missed our last logistics roundup, you can still read it by heading over here!

Amazon Warns of Delays That Could Be Result of Virus Fears

Limited Product Availability on Amazon Prime Now due to Coronavirus

It may be one of the biggest eRetailers in the world, but even Amazon’s not immune to the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus. On Monday, the company warned that its Prime Now and Amazon Fresh deliveries have limited availability. Translation: we’re experiencing delays.

While the retail giant hasn’t exactly confirmed that the coronavirus was the culprit behind its supply issues, it’s not a stretch to believe this is the case. It’s been reported that deliveries of bottled water have seen a huge uptick in recent weeks.

And, with Prime Now and Amazon Fresh offering convenience store necessities and groceries, it appears that panicking customers who are stocking up for doomsday are throwing a spanner in Amazon’s fulfillment capabilities.

Easyship’s Take: Given the panic-buying happening across the world, from Hong Kong and Japan to Australia and Italy, it should come as no surprise that American consumers are taking to Amazon to stock up in case of short supplies or quarantines.

But we’d like to take a minute to remind everyone to keep calm and carry on. While there’s nothing wrong in filling your pantry just in case, it's important to remember that everyone needs supplies and you shouldn't buy more than you need to see you through a potential quarantine.

H&M Opens Its Supply Chain to Encourage Sustainable Fashion

A woman carries a bag from environmentally-conscious brand H&M

Fast-fashion retailer H&M is leading the charge for sustainability in fashion by opening its supply chain to smaller retailers. The Swedish brand is trialing a new subsidiary - a consulting service called Treadler - that will support smaller businesses in accessing sustainable solutions.

Through Treadler, smaller fashion brands will be able to access a range of sustainable supply chain options running from product development and sourcing to production and logistics. This will include sourcing optimization, fact-based pricing, physical and chemical quality checks, and shipping.

Perhaps most importantly, Treadler will help these small companies find sustainable order management, shipping, customs, and warehouse delivery options. Since shipping is a major polluter, this can only be a good thing for our environment.

Easyship’s Take: This is a great step in the right direction for the fashion industry. We already know that fashion is one of the biggest polluters and coupled with the shipping impact, this has the potential to make some serious changes for the world.

But it remains to be seen how much of an effect this will have. At the moment, H&M’s supply chain has 57% recycled or sustainably-sourced materials and 97% recycled or sustainably-source cotton. It’s good - and passing this on will be even better - but there’s still room for improvement.

Air Freight Rates Spike as Chinese Manufacturing Resumes

Airline running a near-empty ghost flight due to Coronavirus outbreak

The spread of the coronavirus caused an unprecedented slowdown in manufacturing in China and saw a significant drop in air freight capacity as airlines cut passenger routes due to low demand. Now, although China’s factories are resuming operations and producing goods that need to be sent to other parts of the world, air freight capacity is still low as airlines haven’t resumed passenger routes. The result? A huge jump in rates for air cargo.

In February, air cargo capacity out of China was down 39% compared to last year because of the shortage of passenger flights. Since a large number of air shipments are made in the belly of commercial flights, there’s now not enough space to meet the demands of shippers who want to get their China-manufactured products to other countries quickly. As a result, prices for air freight leaving China have skyrocketed. On China-US routes, the price has risen nearly 27% to over $3.50/kg.

Easyship’s Take: The good news is that supply lines are beginning to open up again after a major contraction during the month of February, so if you were manufacturing goods in China and hoping to get them to other places, you’ll be relieved.

However, it doesn’t look like commercial airlines will be putting its passenger routes back on just yet, so you may be stuck with inflated air freight rates for the time being. It may be worth temporarily looking into other solutions in the interim - DHL and other couriers are slowly beginning to put on more freighter flights and may offer some more cost-effective solutions, and you can access many of these through Easyship.