Amazon Announces Changes to Online Grocery Business, Including a New Waitlist

Amazon is making a slew of changes to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, this time to its online grocery ordering services, Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market. They company is working fast to increase its capacity for online grocery orders as more and more people are self-isolating, however, it is giving existing customers preferential treatment. According to a report by Business Insider, new online grocery customers will be put on a waitlist.

Amazon has announced a number of new policies an initiatives over the last few weeks as COVID-19 — the novel coronavirus — causes a massive upswing in online shopping. The company claimed that it has increased its capacity for online grocery orders by over 60 percent since the pandemic began. However, it admits that many customers may still have trouble finding a delivery window that suits them. To handle this issue, the company is changing the way it handles online orders.

First of all, new Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods Market customers will now be asked to sign up for a waitlist. This will allow Amazon to make sure it is best serving existing customers before committing to new ones. It will also give those new customers some clarity about the availability of online orders, so they will not be left hanging.

The second new policy is that Amazon will offer delivery windows for online grocery orders on a first-come, first-served basis. This means that customers will be placed in a "virtual line" when they check out with a grocery order, so that multiple people are not selecting the same delivery window at the same time. Ultimately, this may increase the time it takes to check out, but will greatly streamline the process in other ways.

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These customer-facing changes are only a part of Amazon's overall plan to accomodate the growing online grocery market in the coming months. However, in many cases the company is stretched to its limit trying to make these adjustments, and it might not be able to come out on top. Amazon reportedly intended to roll out new online grocery shopping options throughout this year, including more grocery-capable fulfillment centers and more Whole Foods stores with pick-up options. With the industry suddenly kicked into overdrive, there is no telling whether Amazon will come out on top.

Other companies are rushing to adjust to online grocery shopping as well, including Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco. As of last spring, Amazon was still leading the pack, with 63 percent of online grocery orders in the U.S. in April of 2019.