Ocado closes app, turns away new orders

Ocado has been forced to close its mobile app and turn away new orders, in response to unprecedented delivery demand during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The online grocer took its app offline yesterday citing performance issues “driven by continued high demand”, while a reported 1,000 per cent jump in website traffic forced it to inform customers not to wait, as it had “no new delivery slots for the next few days”.

The business introduced a new initiative earlier this week in which customers were placed in a virtual queuing system where they had to wait up to 30 minutes to place an order.

Ocado is far from the only retailer struggling under the weight of fresh demand for online grocery delivery orders, with several supermarket chains being unable to fulfil delivery slot demand.

Waitrose’s website became intermittently unavailable yesterday, following problems last week preventing shoppers from being able to complete online orders, while Sainsbury’s warned of “extremely high demand” leading to no delivery slots for the next three weeks. Tesco and Morrisons showed no delivery slots until next months for some parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Amazon is banning its sellers in the UK from sending any non-essential items to its warehouses from 5 April, as it struggles to deal with a surge in demand during self-isolation.

The e-commerce giant’s Fulfilled by Amazon service, which enables third-party sellers to utilise its warehouse storage space and delivery network, is being forced to prioritise essential products in order to keep up with demand.

Only products from five key categories will be allowed – including groceries, pet supplies, health and household goods, beauty and personal care items and industrial and scientific items.

On Monday, Amazon announced it would hire 100,000 extra staff in full and part-time positions across the US to meet demand in its fulfilment centres, while investing $350 million globally to increase pay – with rates increasing by £2 per hour in the UK.

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