Grocery delivery has been a lifeline for those unable to visit supermarkets in person and those just trying to flatten the viral curve. But there’s been a rush to grocery e-commerce, and if you’re just now trying it out, there’s a good chance that you’re gonna have to get in a virtual line.
Amazon announced today that it is instituting a waitlist for new online Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods customers. From a blog post outlining a number of changes the company was making in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic:
We are temporarily asking new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery and pickup customers to sign up for an invitation to use online grocery delivery and pickup. We’re increasing capacity each week and will invite new customers to shop every week.
Also in that announcement was the news that Amazon’s Woodland Hills, CA location, which was to be the first of its full-on supermarket locations, was opening as an online only order fulfillment center. Thankfully, that location appears to have robots to help with order processing.
Amazon isn’t the only company struggling to meet the crush of new demand in online grocery. Eater reported last week that FreshDirect and Instacart customers in NYC were staying up all night to try and get delivery slots. Grocery Dive wrote today that some ShopRite customers are being placed in virtual waiting rooms before they can shop (Ocado and Morrison’s shoppers in the UK face similar situations). And anecdotally speaking, my local Safeway’s delivery is full through the rest of this week, with no option to schedule beyond that.
All this is to say that grocery retailers, even the big ones, are having a hard time with all this craziness. Though they are all hiring like crazy, the infrastructure just wasn’t in place to handle years’ worth of growth in a matter of weeks. Hopefully, grocery retailers will be able to get their processes all ironed out so people will be able to get their food, while keeping all those store and delivery workers safe.
In the meantime, if you’re an existing Amazon/Whole Foods online customer, you can try this free downloadable tool that alerts you when delivery slots from the company opens up.