E-commerce giant Amazon has temporarily closed its doors to new online grocery customers to ensure it is able to meet demand among existing clients.

Until recently, Amazon’s grocery delivery offering has been characterised by extreme promptness and the ability to select precise time-slots for delivery, but a surge in online food shopping has caused a scarcity of available slots.

To alleviate this issue, new grocery customers will now join a waiting list while Amazon endeavours to increase its capacity over the coming weeks.

The company has also introduced limited shopping hours at select Whole Foods stores, allowing additional staff hours to be diverted towards the fulfilment of online purchases.

These latest restrictions follow the earlier withdrawal of Amazon Prime next-day delivery for some non-essential items, designed to ensure the timely delivery of high-priority products such as medical supplies.

The e-commerce behemoth has also curtailed its Amazon Shipping courier service and frozen shipments of Fulfilled-by-Amazon (FBA) products to prioritise its own essential inventory – a move that reportedly affects at least 53% of third-party marketplaces.

The extension of the FBA freeze beyond the original April 5 deadline infuriated sellers across the US and EU, adding fuel to existing protests over the company’s handling of the pandemic, sparked originally by the lack of protective measures in place for warehouse staff.

While delivery limitations may afford Amazon breathing room in its fight to rediscover equilibrium, the firm does not expect grocery delivery issues to evaporate overnight.

“We still expect the combination of restricted capacity due to social distancing and customer demand will continue to make finding available delivery windows challenging for customers,” conceded Amazon’s Vice President of Grocery, Stephenie Landry.

“If you are able to do so safely, we kindly encourage our customers who can to shop in person,” she added.

Via Reuters

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