The coronavirus outbreak has put a spotlight on cracks in US systems, community organisers say. Picture: 123RF/JOZEF POLC
The coronavirus outbreak has put a spotlight on cracks in US systems, community organisers say. Picture: 123RF/JOZEF POLC

Seattle — Amazon will hire 100,000 people — and give US workers a $2 an hour raise in an effort to meet crushing demand from customers placing online orders for household essentials rather than going to crowded stores.

Amazon has had difficulty meeting demand triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The company warned customers on March 2 that orders were backlogged since demand outstripped its delivery capacity, and a technical glitch on Sunday further delayed orders from Whole Foods Markets and other Amazon services.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, Amazon and our network of partners are helping communities around the world in a way that very few can — delivering critical supplies directly to the doorsteps of people who need them,” Amazon executive Dave Clark said Monday in a blog post.

“Getting a priority item to your doorstep is vital as communities practice social-distancing, particularly for the elderly and others with underlying health issues. We are seeing a significant increase in demand, which means our labour needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”

Amazon is prioritsing the stocking and shipping of household staples and medical supplies as it struggles to deal with a surge in demand for online orders from customers avoiding stores during the pandemic and public lockdowns.

The online retailer said in a blog post updated on Tuesday morning, that it is making the move “so we can more quickly receive, restock, and ship these products to customers”. Also on Tuesday, Amazon told third-party sellers on its marketplace that the company wouldn’t accept shipments from sellers in other product categories at least until April 5.

Amazon said it is taking a similar approach with the big brands it buys directly from.

Business Insider reported the restrictions on other product categories earlier.

“We understand this is a change for our selling partners and appreciate their understanding as we temporarily prioritise these products for customers,” an Amazon spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement, adding that products already on their way to Amazon warehouses will be accepted.


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