Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online grocery shopping and delivery services are more popular than ever. Amazon is one of the biggest players in the online grocery shopping space with its Amazon Fresh, Amazon Prime Now and Whole Foods Market grocery delivery services.
Yet while Amazon customers used to be able to get their groceries delivered the same day, most are now finding that the first available delivery spots are usually weeks away. But for those who are not pre-existing customers, chances of receiving delivery spots are even slimmer.
Beginning April 13, new customers that want to use Amazon’s delivery services are required to “sign up for an invitation” to help it handle the demand. This means anyone who has not previously ordered groceries through Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market will now be prompted to join a waiting list before they can place orders.
Amazon recently boosted order capacity by 60 percent in recent weeks and is adding more, the company explained in a blog post. That is still not enough to meet demand from the millions of subscribers to Amazon’s Prime services.
Among other changes, the company said it is hiring more workers to expand capacity and that it plans to launch a new feature that will help customers secure a virtual “place in line” to distribute the delivery windows. The aim is to more fairly distribute grocery delivery windows by making them available on a first-come, first-served basis. As to when customers can expect this new tool to launch, only time will tell as there is currently no time frame.
Amazon also said that it added pick-up to roughly 70 new Whole Foods locations, bringing its total to more than 150 stores. Around 480 Whole Foods stores are open in the US and Amazon is also adjusting opening hours at some Whole Foods locations so employees can use the reduced shopping hours to fulfill online orders.
There’s no telling how long new customers will have to wait on the waiting list, but the company plans to add new capacity each week to grocery deliveries. The more capacity Amazon has, the more new customers it can allow in to shop online for food.