Amazon puts new online grocery customers on hold, reconfigures Whole Foods
The surge of online grocery adoption due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to slowdowns and stock-outs from the once untouchable Amazon.com. Now the e-tail juggernaut is taking unprecedented steps to play catch up with the massive demand.
Amazon began placing new grocery delivery customers on a wait-list yesterday, according to CNBC. The move comes as existing Amazon grocery shoppers have been increasingly unable to find delivery slots and therefore unable to place orders. Amazon is also reconfiguring Whole Foods’ role in the delivery process. After boosting the number of locations with available grocery pickup from 80 to 150 due to increased demand, Amazon has decided to shorten hours that Whole Foods is open to the public in order to focus on online order fulfillment.
At least one Whole Foods location has been closed entirely for foot traffic and is being used solely for online order fulfillment. The chain sent out an email on April 13 informing customers who frequent the Bryant Park Whole Foods location in Manhattan that the store would be temporarily closed to focus on online orders. The message directs customers interested in in-store shopping to visit the Union Square, Columbus Circle or Midtown East stores. It also suggests that customers can place orders online through Amazon, although it notes that delivery slots may be unavailable due to demand.
The coronavirus-inspired rise in e-grocery demand has been driven in no small part by new customers. A full 28 percent of online grocery shoppers made their first purchase in March, according to a study by Acosta.
The inability to meet skyrocketing customer demand is only one of the problems Amazon has been facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. It has also received criticism from some quarters for failing to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of its warehouse staff.
Amazon is not the only target of such charges. Anxiety and alarm have grown throughout the U.S. grocery world as news emerges of frontline store staff becoming infected with — and even dying from — COVID-19 at stores run by Giant, Trader Joe’s and Walmart.
- Amazon stops accepting new online grocery customers amid surging demand – CNBC
- Acosta Analyzes Evolution of US Shopper Behavior Amid Growing Threat of COVID-19 – Acosta
- Should working in retail warehouses be safer than stores? – RetailWire
- Fear, heroism and wrongful death lawsuits in the age of coronavirus – RetailWire
- Grocery workers are beginning to die of coronavirus – Washington Post
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will wait-listing new customers and converting Whole Foods locations to online fulfillment centers allow Amazon to get on top of its e-grocery demands? What do you think the online grocery shopping landscape will look like when the dust settles?