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Amazon puts new online grocery customers on waitlist

The retailer has also aside hours at some Whole Foods locations exclusively to fill online orders.

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Amazon says it's working to improve grocery deliveries.

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Amazon on Sunday said new online grocery customers will be put on a waitlist as it works to meet "unprecedented" demand for delivery and pickup. New Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market customers must now sign up for an invitation to use online grocery delivery and pickup and will be notified when they can shop, the company said in a blog post. Amazon said it's working to add capacity and new customers will be invited every week. 

The online retail giant has seen a surge in new orders as most of the US has been asked to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, making it harder for customers to snag delivery slots and harder for grocers to keep high-demand items in stock. Amazon has taken steps to temporarily prioritize high-demand items and has put aside hours at some Whole Foods locations exclusively to fill online orders. It's also expanded Whole Foods pickup from roughly 80 stores to more than 150, the company said.

On Sunday, Amazon said it'll also launch a new feature in the coming weeks that gives online grocery customers a "virtual place in line" in order to distribute delivery windows on a first come, first served basis. 

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic. As of Monday there have been over 1.8 million confirmed cases globally, with more than 557,000 in the US.

Amazon's main e-commerce website has also seen a surge in orders. On Monday, Amazon said it'll hire 75,000 more workers to meet demand during the COVID-19 outbreak.

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