The Real Reason Amazon Is Putting New Grocery-Delivery Customers On Hold

Amazon Prime has long offered one of the best bargains in grocery delivery service out there. If you are already a Prime member, in addtion to enjoying benefits such as Prime Video, music, and what was once (and will be again) two-day shipping on any Prime products, you can also get free delivery on a wide variety of grocery items offered either through Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods with a minimum order of $35. Not bad at all, considering how many other grocery delivery services charge up to $10 in delivery fees.

The problem is, as anyone knows who's tried to order groceries through Amazon (or any other delivery service) lately, it's gotten nearly impossible to schedule a time slot over the past few weeks. Whereas once upon a time (meaning, before mid-March 2020), you could decide on a whim that you needed a few grocery items and within two hours they'd be at your door, these days you will get your delivery... who knows when. In fact, if you have yet to order groceries through Amazon, Prime member or not, you'll now have to join a waiting list before you can order them at all.

Amazon is establishing a wait list for grocery customers

While Amazon has been taking numerous measures to keep up with demand for grocery delivery services over the past month, steps which include expanding delivery capacity by 60 percent and hiring 100,000 new workers (with plans to hire 75,000 more, according to NPR), they are still struggling to keep up with the sheer volume of orders — The New York Times reports these have increased about 5,000 percent due to self-quarantining. As a result, Amazon announced in a blog post that it will be prioritizing grocery orders from existing Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods delivery customers and will be asking new customers to sign up to receive an invitation to shop.

In another unusual move from a company that has built its founder's vast fortune on online ordering and delivery, Amazon also issued this surprising statement: "If you are able to do so safely, we kindly encourage our customers who can to shop in-person." Of course, the stores they are encouraging you to patronize are the ones belonging to its own Whole Foods brand... they're not going to tell you to shop at Safeway or Kroger or anything crazy like that. But in case you don't want to venture out of the house or wait for an invite to shop at home, there are plenty of other grocery delivery services you could always try your luck with.