Amazon waitlisting customers as demand for online grocery delivery skyrockets

Photo (c) ablokhin - Getty Images

The company plans to deliver groceries on a ‘first come, first served basis’

Amazon has been forced to waitlist new shoppers amid a surge in demand for food delivery via Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh. Starting this week, Amazon said it will require new customers to “sign up for an invitation” to use those services. 

In a blog post, the company explained that it’s struggling to keep up with grocery delivery demand from its Amazon Prime subscribers despite having increased its order capacity by 60 percent in recent weeks. 

“While we have increased order capacity by more than 60 percent due to COVID-19, 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,” the company said. 

“To help, 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.” 

‘Unprecedented demand’ 

The company said it’s temporarily requesting that new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery consumers sign up for an invitation to join during this time of “unprecedented demand.”

“With the new world of social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place for most of the country, customers have generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery,” the company said. “Our Amazon associates, Whole Foods Market Team Members, and delivery partners are among the many retail heroes of this COVID-19 crisis.” 

In addition to boosting its order capacity, Amazon -- which purchased Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in 2017 -- said it added pick-up to around 70 new Whole Foods locations. The company said it also modified its opening hours at some locations to enable employees to “focus exclusively on fulfilling online grocery orders during this time.” 

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