Delivery bottleneck E-food explosion

Montag, 30. März 2020
Overloaded: A van from Rewe Online.
Jörg Rode
Overloaded: A van from Rewe Online.
The corona pandemic is causing an unprecedented surge of online orders. Food delivery services in Germany and Switzerland are struggling to cope as customers have difficulties to get delivery time slots in e-food shops such as Rewe Online, Amazon Fresh and Picnic. 

Delivery services are currently under high pressure. Waiting times of one to two weeks for online orders are the new normal because consumers are afraid of getting too close to other people in traditional stores. German grocer Rewe admits that the high demand for e-food means that items ordered today will not be delivered for one or two weeks. With its delivery service available in 75 cities, the Cologne-based retail group is the largest online grocery retailer in Germany.

Online supermarket Picnic, which supplies ten cities in the Ruhr and Rhineland, is experiencing an increase in demand to more than twice the normal level, according to its German boss Frederic Knaudt. Even existing customers have to wait up to a week for delivery after placing an online order. New customers would have to wait even longer. More than 70,000 households are already on the waiting list. Picnic has hired almost 200 new employees since the end of February, says Knaudt.

High demand with Amazon Fresh

Food delivery service Amazon Fresh, which is offered in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and Potsdam, also has to struggle with a huge increase in demand. Their homepage reads: "Product range and delivery may be temporarily restricted due to increased demand".

Amazon asks potential customers to select a delivery time window as a first step. A test run at Amazon Fresh Hamburg, conducted by Lebensmittel Zeitung, displayed the message: "There are currently no delivery times available for that day" for almost every day in the next three weeks.

The order page provides customers with further Corona-related information: "Your delivery will be stopped at your apartment door after the doorbell rings, in order to maintain the recommended safety distance. Our drivers are currently unable to take back any deposit items, shipping bags or bags".

Smaller online supermarket Getnow also reported a steep increase in orders and delivery bottlenecks. Delivery slots are fully booked 14 days in advance. The number of orders has suddenly doubled. "We can only process a small part of the demand. And we are always at full load," Getnow manager Thorsten Eder told dpa. 

Coop also fully booked

Delivery services Migros-LeShop and Coop@Home, which have been successful in Switzerland, are similarly successful.  Coop's homepage informs that "in most regions delivery dates are fully booked for several days". The info page has it in large letters: "Switzerland is currently in an exceptional situation. Due to the currently very high demand, Coop@home is experiencing temporary restrictions in the choice of delivery dates and product availability". The Swiss food retailer announced that it is "currently setting up another central warehouse for the top 100 articles".

At German drugstore chain dm, customers also have to wait quite a long time for their orders. Parcel services have been taking over the delivery. The head of the drugstore chain, Christoph Werner, told Handelsblatt: "Due to the enormous demand, the delivery time has briefly jumped from two to three working days to nine to twelve working days". The test run for picking up ordered goods in stores (Click&Collect) in Munich had been suspended by dm, "because the quantities in the stores are exploding". (rod/dpa)

Coronavirus (Symbolbild)
imago images / ZUMA Press

This text was originally published in German and machine-translated into English.

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