Seattle– Hit by unprecedented online orders amid lockdowns and social distancing, Amazon has announced to put customers on a waiting list, and will invite new customers to shop every week.

The ecommerce giant said while it has increased order capacity by more than 60 per cent due to COVID-19, it still expects the combination of restricted capacity due to social distancing and customer demand will continue to make finding available delivery windows challenging for customers.

“To help, in the coming weeks, we will launch a new feature that will allow customers to secure time to shop. 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. Simultaneously, we will continue to add capacity as swiftly as possible,” Stephenie Landry, Vice President of grocery at Amazon, said in a statement on Sunday.

The company said it will also adjust store hours for select Whole Foods Market locations to focus exclusively on fulfilling online grocery orders during this time.

“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,” explained Landry.

Amazon is currently focusing on high-priority items to ensure the fastest delivery of household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centers.

Landry said that in the last several weeks, the company has expanded Whole Foods Market grocery pickup from roughly 80 stores to more than 150.

“We are releasing delivery windows throughout the day and have made it easier for customers to see when the next delivery window is available by including it on the homepages of Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market,” she added.

Last week, the company extended the ‘Amazon Relief Fund’ to its delivery partners — associates of the Delivery Service Partner Programme, Amazon Flex programme and trucking partners providing middle-mile logistics support — in India in view of the coronavirus crisis.

Amazon said that this fund can be utilised by qualifying individuals who have been quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Amazon Relief Fund has been set up globally with an initial contribution of $25 million initial contribution to support employees, qualified independent contractors, and employees of qualified vendors who face financial hardships from qualifying events.

These events could be natural disasters, government declared emergencies, or unforeseen personal hardship. (IANS)

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