Enlarge /. If you are not yet an Amazon or Whole Foods customer, do not try to sign up now. it will not work.
Since many consumers stay at home and only limit themselves to online purchases, Amazon – already the standard online shop "Everything for millions" – has taken advantage of this. But even the massive conglomerate cannot keep up with consumer demand for food, household items, and everything else. To catch up is both a hype of hiring and the limitation of new customers.
The company announced today that it will hire another 75,000 part-time and full-time employees for its companies in the coming weeks to meet demand. This adds to the 100,000 new employees that the company hired for its warehouse, logistics and grocery stores by the end of March and in the first weeks of April.
The company also announced that it will enable third parties to resume shipping "non-essential items" through its Amazon fulfillment service later this week, the Wall Street Journal reported for the first time. Even with up to 175,000 additional people trying to get goods from Amazon to buyers, the company asked its customers for patience. In addition to warning about delays in Prime member orders, Amazon is now closing food orders for new customers.
"We are temporarily asking new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market customers to sign up for an invitation to deliver and pick up groceries online," the company said in a blog post on Sunday. "We are increasing capacity every week and will be inviting new customers to shop every week."
Amazon has increased Whole Foods' online ordering capacity by more than 60 percent since the COVID 19 crisis began. The online giant also expects that the combination of "limited capacity due to social distance" and increased demand will make it "difficult for customers" to find open delivery locations.
"If you can do this safely," Amazon concluded, "we kindly encourage our customers who can shop in person."
Employees are not immune
Amazon has announced its commitment to "the health and safety of customers and employees" in its announcement to restrict food orders. For a few weeks now, Amazon employees have publicly criticized the company's response to the threat that COVID-19 poses to its own workforce.
Employees at more than 100 Amazon warehouse locations have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Federal officials opened an investigation into a warehouse in Pennsylvania last week after workers complained that the company was not taking the disease threat seriously enough.
Small groups of Amazon employees have held strikes and other protests at multiple company locations in recent weeks. The company fired the leader of such a protest, Chris Smalls, and initially said the termination had nothing to do with the organization's efforts. However, a leaked memo was later released in which the Amazon General Counsel tried to make Smalls a scapegoat. He wrote: "He is not smart or articulate, and to the extent that the press wants to focus on us against him, we will be in a lot." Stronger PR position than just explaining how we try to protect workers for the umpteenth time. "
Amazon says it has stepped up its response to the virus and the company is providing more masks and gloves for employees. Last week Amazon announced that it was launching its own employee testing program, but scaling it will take some time. Despite these efforts, many employees have told the media that the changes feel too late and too little.
"Were you slow? Yes, definitely," an employee said to The Verge. "The only reason they're doing this stuff is because we blew it up in the media."
BuzzFeed News also reported "widespread confusion" among Amazon employees trying to get compensation for the time they were quarantined by COVID-19 over the weekend.
Amazon's public policy promises two weeks of wages for anyone infected or quarantined with the virus: "If someone is diagnosed or comes to us who is likely to be diagnosed (but can't get a test), we'll grant them an additional paid leave of absence. We also contact people who have been in close contact with a diagnosed person and give them 14 days to stay home for a fee. "
According to BuzzFeed employees, this is not the case. Both HR and hourly workers are not sure when the new guidelines will apply. One told BuzzFeed that trying to get the reimbursement he owed required "jumping through tires" and that politics was "really just a matter of public relations."