Amazon Puts New Online Grocery Customers On Hold

New customers for Amazon grocery delivery will be directed to a waitlist, the company said on Sunday (April 12).

In addition, hours at some physical locations of Whole Foods stores have been curtailed to allow for restocking and cleaning, and others are now focusing exclusively on fulfilling online grocery orders as the coronavirus pandemic accelerates demand beyond capacity. 

“In the coming weeks, we will launch a new feature that will allow customers to secure time to shop. This feature will give delivery customers a virtual place in line and will allow us to distribute the delivery windows on a first-come, first-served basis. Simultaneously, we will continue to add capacity as swiftly as possible,” Stephenie Landry, vice president of Grocery at Amazon, wrote in a blog post.

Although Amazon suspended Prime Pantry delivery service for non-perishable groceries in March, the company upped its online grocery capacity by more than 60 percent overall to meet demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many shoppers still cannot place orders for delivery due to a lack of time slots. Whole Foods stores offering pickup ​expanded from 80 locations to over 150.

“We are releasing delivery windows throughout the day and have made it easier for customers to see when the next delivery window is available by including it on the homepages of Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market,” Landry said.

Amazon also said last month that it was hiring 100,000 new people to help meet demand and would invest over $350 million to support employees and partners during the crisis. To better protect workers and customers, physical stores are limiting the number of customers allowed inside, and employees are given daily temperature checks and provided with masks and gloves.

In addition, the tech giant said it was using advanced cleanliness protocols at all locations and enforcing social distancing.

Amazon is already reportedly postponing its Prime Day summer shopping event to August at the soonest, according to internal notes obtained by Reuters. Prime Day was started in 2015 to encourage sales during the quiet summer shopping season, and it has taken place in July in the past.