With the new world of social distancing and stay-at-home orders in place for most of the country, customers have generated unprecedented demand for grocery delivery. Our Amazon associates, Whole Foods Market Team Members, and delivery partners are among the many retail heroes of this COVID-19 crisis. Throughout the pandemic, our top priority has been the health and safety of customers and employees, while also working around the clock to expand services, launch new features, and open stores in order to serve the dramatic increase in customer demand for grocery delivery.
To keep our people safe and healthy, we have implemented increased safety protocols, including:
- Performing daily employee temperature checks and distributing masks and gloves across our Amazon and Whole Foods Markets stores.
- Providing plexiglass barriers between cashiers and customers at checkout in Whole Foods Market stores.
- Rolling out enhanced cleanliness and sanitation protocols across all stores and facilities, on top of our standard stringent protocols.
- Enforcing social distancing guidelines, including restricting the number of customers and employees based on the size of the store.
- Adjusting store hours to give team members more time to restock shelves and sanitize stores.
- Temporary changes to in-store offerings, including no longer allowing personal, reusable containers; suspending self-serve offerings and sampling; and making seating areas temporarily unavailable.
While these changes have made facilities and stores a safer place, they have also created limits in our ability to increase the capacity of our delivery services. Despite these challenges, we’re working hard to improve the grocery delivery experience with the following measures:
- In the last several weeks, we have expanded Whole Foods Market grocery pickup from roughly 80 stores to more than 150, and we will continue to quickly expand grocery pickup in the coming weeks.
- To help meet demand, we’ve hired 175,000 people since March 16, including for grocery delivery. We are also making investments to support employees and partners during the crisis. Ramping hiring enables us to more quickly receive, restock, and deliver products to customers and continue increasing delivery window availability.
- We will adjust store hours for select Whole Foods Market locations to focus exclusively on fulfilling online grocery orders during this time. In addition, we have opened our Woodland Hills, California grocery store as a temporary online-only store, focused exclusively on fulfilling grocery delivery orders.
- We temporarily asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery and pickup customers to sign up for an invitation however, we've removed the invite list in most cities, and more than 90% of eligible Prime members are able to shop without requesting an invitation. We continue inviting new customers every week.
- 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.
- To support the most vulnerable communities during this pandemic, we are reserving the first hour of grocery pickup at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide for customers 60 years and older, those with disabilities, and those whom the CDC defines as high risk. Customers can go to amazon.com/wholefoods, select "Pickup,” and begin building their cart. When they are ready to check out, they can select the first pickup window of the day, which is marked reserved for at-risk customers. All Whole Foods Market stores have dedicated shopping hours to service customers who are 60+ (70+ years old U.K.), those with disabilities and those who the CDC defines as high risk.
- In partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we have expanded online access to SNAP (food assistance benefits) in multiple states, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, and Washington. We are working with them on further expansions.
While we have increased order capacity by more than 60 percent due to COVID-19, we still expect the combination of customer demand and restricted capacity due to social distancing will continue to make finding available delivery windows challenging for customers. To help, in the coming weeks, we will launch a new feature allowing 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.
Finally, our Whole Foods Markets stores remain open, and Team Members have done incredible work ensuring a safe and well-stocked shopping experience.
Read more about how we’re protecting the health and safety of employees. You can also find a running list of updates on how we’re getting groceries to customers.