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Amazon Is Eliminating Waitlists and Quantity Limits, Restoring Some Services

By Rhian Hunt – May 13, 2020 at 1:18PM

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The moves indicate that the worst of COVID-19's effects may be over at its warehouses.

Increased demand for staples plus the need to limit nonessential purchases prompted Amazon.com (AMZN -1.57%) to introduce grocery waitlists in April and put inventory and shipment limits on nonessential items. Now, the online retail hub is relaxing or eliminating these restrictions, potentially indicating that demand is returning to normal and the planned May return of warehouse workers might be streamlining processing. 

Starting this week, the majority of new grocery customers on the Amazon website will no longer be placed on a waitlist to await an invitation before they can start purchasing from the site. The waitlist remains in place for a few locations, according to company statements, but is now gone from most. "We've removed the invite list in most cities, and more than 80% of eligible Prime members are able to shop without requesting an invitation," an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement yesterday, according to CNET.

An Amazon Prime Air airplane in flight.

Image source: Amazon.com.

Sellers of nonessential goods, ranging from books to toys to outdoor accessories and a host of other categories, also received good news from the retail giant. Quantity limits on their items are now lifted, and they can ship as many of these products as they wish to Amazon fulfillment centers for distribution. Spokeswoman Kristen Kish, who announced the change, also noted the company is "improving delivery speeds across our store."

Site features Amazon temporarily switched off during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic are also returning. Some of these include coupons, next-day delivery for certain U.S. cities, and the "frequently bought together" product recommendation feed that appears on many product pages.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Rhian Hunt has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon and long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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