Amazon increases grocery delivery capacity amid coronavirus surge

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Amazon's grocery delivery is now free for Prime customers.
Image: Amazon

As more people stay home to avoid the coronavirus, grocery delivery has become a matter of necessity rather than convenience. Just a few months ago, many people viewed at-home grocery delivery as excessive. Now, it is having its moment.

In response to more customers trying to order their groceries online, Amazon is ramping up its Amazon Fresh delivery service. The e-commerce giant is currently increasing both its delivery capacity and pick-up options at Whole Foods markets. The move will help more people get food during the coronavirus pandemic.

Eating Fresh

Now that some of the panic about buying supplies has subsided, consumers are wondering how they should get groceries. While some choose to take a trip to the store, others opt to continue practicing social distancing and order them online.

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However, as more people adopt online grocery ordering, timeslots are becoming harder to find. Delivery providers and grocery stores around the U.S. are swamped with orders and simply cannot keep up. The challenge of keeping high-demand items in stock is equally difficult.

Amazon’s commitment to increasing its delivery capacity comes on the heels of another grocery announcement earlier this week. A company blog post revealed that it is prioritizing household staples and other high-demand items both in its brick-and-mortar locations and for online deliveries. It’s worth noting that Amazon is also prioritizing deliveries of household items and medical supplies from its main website.

In the meantime, the company’s subsidiary Whole Foods grocery stores will remain open. The hours of each store will be adjusted to allow more time for cleaning and to give at-risk shoppers (those 60 and older) an hour to shop prior to the store opening for the general public.

To make all of these changes possible, Amazon said that it will hire an additional 100,000 employees in the U.S. It also raised wages and overtime pay for its hourly workers.

Sweeping Changes

Increasing its capacity for deliveries is nothing new for Amazon. The Bezos-led company has successfully scaled its operations to dominate about half of the U.S. e-commerce market. However, it has never had to deal with something quite like this.

In this time of crisis, Amazon deliveries are more important than ever. However, the company still needs to focus on keeping its employees (and customers) safe. To help do so, it has instituted sweeping changes across its retail locations and warehouses.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus is a numbers game. With the pathogen’s high rate of contagion, it’s only a matter of time until someone within a company gets it. For Amazon, it has happened already. The company has confirmed that at least 10 of its warehouses have a worker with a confirmed case.

Employees have been critical that the company isn’t doing enough to protect them as they work to ensure that deliveries for customers around the country arrive on time. With no sure-fire way of preventing the spread of the virus (besides shutting down and sending employees home) it will be interesting to see how Amazon responds.

For now, customers can continue to get their groceries delivered so that they can focus on social distancing.

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