Amazon delivery change driving out Orthodox sellers

Ron Kampeas

(JTA) — A change in requirements for participating in a select Amazon delivery program is posing potentially insurmountable challenges for Orthodox sellers.

As of Feb. 1, Amazon businesses that deliver from non-Amazon warehouses through Amazon Prime, a subscription service that includes free two-day delivery, must agree to fulfill orders six days a week.

The sellers may choose Saturday or Sunday delivery to fulfill their six-day-a-week commitment, but shipping carriers like FedEx and UPS offer limited or no pickup on Sundays. Observant Jews do not do business on the Jewish sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

Orthodox sellers make up a disproportionate share of third-party sellers, according to a 2019 Buzzfeed report that explored the connections between Amazon’s marketplace and Orthodox communities.

The Free Beacon, a politically conservative website, on Friday reported that the new policy is driving out businesses run by observant Jews, citing group chats it had reviewed.

Amazon told the Free Beacon that Prime sellers had more than five months’ advance notice of the policy to come up with accommodations and that it had dedicated staff to assist the businesses. The Free Beacon said it had heard from Orthodox businesses that Amazon was unresponsive.

StandWithUs, a pro-Israel non-profit, has proposed to Amazon that it allow sellers to turn off their Amazon Prime badge during Shabbat, meaning that shoppers would not be promised quick shipping during that time.