Is Amazon approaching its breaking point in the Covid-19 crisis? – Quartz

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Ordering groceries from Amazon right now is like playing a whack-a-mole game. Demand is so high among home buyers in the Covid-19 pandemic that in cities like New York, delivery slots are fully booked at Amazon Fresh and its Whole Foods grocery stores. When the locations appear, they can disappear again in an instant. The situation sparked comments on Reddit and led a developer to publish a tool on Github that automatically refreshes an open browser window in the background every 60 seconds until it finds an open location. Meanwhile, items in a customer’s basket can sell in the meantime and can be removed without warning.

It was at this point, when Amazon needed its distribution centers to function properly and at full capacity, that the company faced serious dissatisfaction from the workers in these centers.

At a company warehouse yesterday in Staten Island, New York, workers organized their second outing yesterday to protest conditions they say put them at risk of getting the new coronavirus. Last week, Amazon workers near Detroit staged a similar protest.

The workers denounced their well-being and complained about the lack of protective equipment such as masks. To date, more than 50 Amazon processing centers have seen more than 500 positive workers for the virus in the United States, the New York Times reports. Warehouse use, she added, fell 30%. The company’s handling of labor disputes and comments from Amazon’s best lawyer regarding a dismissed employee appalled even employees of the companies.

In a statement sent by email, Rachael Lightly, an Amazon spokesperson, said that the company had “taken important preventive measures to keep people safe”, such as temperature controls, deep cleaning of its warehouses and the implementation of social distancing rules. At the end of the day, the company plans to distribute masks at all of its sites, she said. Amazon is also currently testing a “disinfectant mist” at the Staten Island site, and it listed its other measures to keep warehouse workers safe in a blog post.

Meanwhile, the business seems almost stretched to the limit of customer demand. The number of orders at Amazon Fresh jumped at the start of the year and the increase is only accelerating, according to data from Rakuten Intelligence, an e-commerce research company.

Dan Frommer, former editor of Recode and former journalist for Quartz, recently pointed out in his publication New Consumer that, under normal circumstances, online grocery delivery is a convenience and a small part of grocery sales . “But as American cities close and tens of millions of people stay at home to help” flatten the curve, “delivering groceries has become essential infrastructure,” he said. written. “And as demand increases, it shows its cracks. “

The problem is not the only one from Amazon. Services like Instacart and Fresh Direct are also under pressure, while in the UK online grocer Ocado warned buyers to place orders in advance due to “unusually high demand”.

At Amazon, the cracks can only widen as orders for home housing increase and more and more customers turn to it for necessities, which puts even more pressure on staff. company warehouse. “None of this works without our employees,” Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for corporate affairs, told The Times. Amazon might risk learning how true it is.

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