Amazon and subsidiary Whole Foods Market have begun limiting the number of online grocery customers because of skyrocketing demand fueled by the coronavirus pandemic.
On a temporary basis, AmazonFresh and Whole Foods delivery and pickup customers now must sign up for an invitation to use those online grocery services, Seattle-based Amazon said yesterday.
Customers have “generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery” in the “new world of social distancing and stay-at-home orders” now in effect across the country, according to Stephenie Landry, vice president of grocery at Amazon.
Order capacity has been expanded by more than 60% in response to soaring demand, Landry reported. Yet the combination of continued high demand and restricted capacity resulting from social distancing will make the availability of delivery windows “challenging” for customers, she noted.
“To help, in the coming weeks, we will launch a new feature that will allow customers to secure time to shop,” Landry said. “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.”
At Whole Foods, grocery pickup service has been increased from about 80 stores to more than 150 in the past few weeks, and the chain plans to keep up the expansion over the coming weeks. Landry said Whole Foods will modify store hours for select locations to focus exclusively on fulfilling online grocery orders.