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Delivery Strained Amid COVID-19

3/19/20 1:37 PM / by Varsity Logistics

Varsity Logistics

  • Amazon deliveries are overwhelmed amid the COVID-19 outbreak
  • The company announces it is hiring for 100,000 new positions
  • You can still order a swimsuit
  • Truckers told to keep their distance

Same-day, even two-day delivery not guaranteed Prime Now and Amazon Fresh are straining under the recent demand for delivery services. With entire cities being ordered to shelter in place, few consumers are venturing out to brick and mortar stores during the health crisis. Nor should they.

Last week, Amazon warned customers that both services have been overwhelmed and to expect longer than usual delivery times.


Job openings across the country

On Sunday, the company announced it is hiring 100,000 part-time and full-time workers across the U.S. for its distribution centers and delivery services, and boosting pay through April by $2/hour. This is welcome news for employees who face layoffs in affected industries.

Unlike Cyber Monday, an annual shopping event for which companies scale up months in advance, no one was truly prepared for this sudden, consistent, and high volume of online ordering. 

Amazon acknowledges that not all 100k new job openings will be permanent. On the Day One blog, the company posted: "We also know many people have been economically impacted as jobs in areas like hospitality, restaurants, and travel are lost or furloughed as part of this crisis. We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back."

It will be interesting to see how many people return to brick-and-mortar stores once we become used to the convenience of home delivery.


Rumors and non-essential orders

Also this week, a rumor started circulating on social media sites that Amazon would be limiting deliveries to only essential items. According to the fact-checking website, that rumor is false.
What is true:
Amazon is temporarily prohibiting third-party sellers from shipping and storing non-essential items at its warehouses until April 5, 2020. This will likely impact the products available for "Fulfillment by Amazon" (FBA) orders in the near-future, once current inventory is depleted. Going forward, the warehouse space freed up will be used to expand stock of essential items being ordered more frequently and in larger quantities.
Amazon did not announce that it was halting shipping on all non-essential items. Amazon will continue to ship non-essential items to consumers, including swimsuits, as long as those items are in stock.
It's important to note that products not shipped from Amazon's warehouses are not affected by this temporary policy.
Other same-day and next-day delivery services including Walmart have also warned of limited availability in the past week. Demand continues to climb as consumers everywhere are starting to curtail their shopping trips.
At some point, everyone will have enough toilet paper etc. and be ordering only to replenish what they use. While that will not put everyone in the clear to resume social intimacy (vs. social distancing), it will ease some of the strain on delivery services.

Trucking and trucker restrictions

Meanwhile, as the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, truckers are facing increasing numbers of obstacles in delivering goods. Truck-stops have closed. Bathrooms are off-limits. Customers are asking drivers to wait in their cabs and to handle all documentation electronically.

The American Trucking Association industry group has contacted the Trump administration asking for its support by easing travel restrictions for drivers with essential deliveries, opening rest stops and offering virus testing.

“Absent policies like these, it will be more difficult to ensure that the shelves are stocked and emergency supplies reach first responders and medical personnel,” ATA Chief Executive Chris Spear said in the letter.


We hope that all of the actions undertaken by businesses and governments, plus what each of us is doing to curtail our public contact, will help flatten the curve.  As a nation, we must deal with the medical crisis at hand so that we may eventually achieve a new, post-pandemic normal.   

Topics: Trucking and Transportation, Supply Chain, Industry News, trends, Safety, Amazon

Varsity Logistics

Written by Varsity Logistics