While Amazon has struggled to find a consistent grocery strategy in the 15 years since it started dabbling in delivery, the Covid-19 pandemic has made one thing abundantly clear: Consumers’ desire to walk the supermarket aisles has diminished.
The rest of the industry is on to that trend as well. With rising competition from Walmart, supermarket chains like ShopRite and Albertsons and apps such as Instacart and DoorDash, Amazon is moving to streamline its grocery-delivery operations.
In late February, Amazon told gig workers who fetch items for delivery that they’ll soon be working for the company’s Whole Foods division. Instead of offering gig work so contractors can pick up and fill batches of grocery orders, workers will become Whole Foods employees with longer shifts.
A Whole Foods spokesperson confirmed that the shoppers will become Whole Foods employees in the U.S. by the end of the year.
According to a job description recently posted by Whole Foods, schedules will be made up to three weeks in advance and cover two-week periods. That contrasts with a recent job post for an Amazon shopper that counts “shift flexibility” and the ability to “work as little as four hours per week” as perks.
The change marks Amazon’s latest effort to simplify its sprawling grocery and physical retail operations, which have grown to include two supermarket chains, convenience stores and apparel stores. The e-commerce giant’s biggest expansion came in 2017 with the $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods.
Amazon on Wednesday launched one-hour grocery pick-up at all Whole Foods locations nationwide.
Last week, Amazon said it will close all of its bookstores, pop-up shops and 4-star stores, which are costly businesses that have failed to gain sales traction. And earlier this year the company shuffled its leadership of physical stores, hiring Tony Hoggett, a veteran of British supermarket chain Tesco, to oversee the unit.
Amazon stressed in its letter that the job change “will create a more unified team culture,” among other benefits.
Some gig workers, though, have voiced displeasure with the change.
On Reddit, Amazon shoppers, who valued the former role because of its flexibility, are concerned that they won’t have the same freedom as store employees. They also expressed concerns about possibly having to reapply for the job.