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April 14, 2020

Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh pickup and delivery services now by invitation-only

New customers must join a waiting list until capacity increases during the coronavirus pandemic

Groceries Amazon
Amazon Whole Foods delivery invitation only Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

New Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market pickup and delivery customers must now receive an invitation to order groceries online. Amazon is struggling to meet demand amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Demand for pickup and delivery grocery services has surged to the point that Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market are struggling to keep pace. 

That's left some shoppers – who are wary of heading to the store themselves amid the coronavirus pandemic – complaining of a lack of available delivery times. 

To meet demand, new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market pickup and delivery customers must join a waiting list to utilize the services, Amazon announced Sunday. Customers will receive an invitation to utilize the services as Amazon bolsters its workforce.

The new policy also applies to any Amazon Prime members looking to use pickup or delivery services for the first time. 

Amazon has hired more than 100,000 people since March 16 and the company plans to hire another 75,000 to increase its capacity to receive, restock and deliver products. The additional hires will increase the availability of delivery windows, the company said.

As capacity increases each week, invitations will be extended to new pickup and delivery customers. Order capacity has increased by 60% since the coronavirus pandemic began, Amazon said.

The company also will roll out a virtual queue for online orders in the weeks ahead. 

“This feature will give delivery customers a virtual ‘place in line’ and will allow us to distribute the delivery windows on a first come, first served basis,” Amazon said in a statement.

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, 5% percent of consumers used online delivery services, but some analysts project that the number will double, according to Bloomberg

GoPuff, a Philadelphia-founded food delivery service, recently opened a new location in Port Richmond earlier than anticipated in order to meet demands. The company also plans to hire thousands of drivers and field staff in the coming weeks.

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