Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will put new grocery delivery customers on a waiting list and reduce store hours to prioritize orders from existing customers that purchase groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Online grocery orders have been set back due to lack of available delivery slots. The company reported that it will be forced to dismiss new online grocery customers to a wait list starting today as it focuses on increasing capacity.
Recently, demand for online delivery has increased dramatically, almost 100% due to fear of the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon will limit the hours at some select Whole Foods stores that are available to the public so that its employees may fulfill online grocery orders.
The company allows for fast delivery through Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime via its warehouses and Whole Foods stores. Orders may be delivery within hours but in March suspended its Prime Pantry delivery service.
Online grocery order capacity has risen over 60% during the outbreak. Amazon has been making more hires in an attempt to meet the increased orders as it plans to launc ha new feature to allow customers a secure virtual “place in line” to receive delivery windows on a first come first served basis. The company offers higher pay to encourage warehouse employees to work in its grocery delivery service.
Amazon runs 487 Whole Foods stores within the U.S. as it has been limiting amount of customers allowed at a time. The company reported that it runs daily temperature checks on its employees and provides masks and gloves to protect workers.
Employees continue to protest that the company is not doing enough to protect them as lawmakers and unions have taken notice. Over 50 Amazon fulfillment centers and Whole Foods stores have confirmed COVID-19 cases. “We still expect the combination of restricted capacity due to social distancing and customer demand will continue to make finding available delivery windows challenging for customers,” Stephenie Landry, vice president of Grocery at Amazon, wrote in a blogpost. “If you are able to do so safely, we kindly encourage our customers who can to shop in-person.”