Amazon hires more drivers to meet demand

Amazon is offering a curated selection of 20,000 products, for delivery islandwide within two hours.
Amazon is offering a curated selection of 20,000 products, for delivery islandwide within two hours. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Move comes as it faces logistical issues over Prime Now service

Overwhelmed by orders, Amazon is recruiting more delivery drivers to meet demand here after some shoppers trying to use its Prime Now fast delivery service were disappointed for a second day yesterday.

The US e-commerce giant made its much-anticipated entry into Singapore and the region with the launch of its Prime Now mobile app on Thursday, offering access to tens of thousands of products, from groceries to electronics, stocked at Amazon's warehouse in the Jurong industrial area.

Delivery is free with a minimum order of $40 and shoppers can choose from six two-hour delivery windows available between 10am and 10pm.

But as early as Thursday afternoon, just hours after its launch, customers were directed to a message that said all delivery windows for Thursday and Friday were unavailable. Delivery slots, when available, are shown over a two-day period.

Checks by The Straits Times yesterday found that users were still unable to place orders on the app, though some shoppers said that slots opened up intermittently.

Amazon's sales here are only through deliveries.

In response to queries yesterday, Amazon said that it is "activating a variety of resources to rapidly open up new windows" to ensure customers can be served.

While it did not reveal the number of downloads for its app, it said that it is delivering "many thousands of orders".

While Amazon declined to reveal its local delivery partners during the launch, it said that a team of them is equipped with an app that helps with deliveries.

The Straits Times learnt that local logistics firms Riverwood and Ninja Van are among Amazon's delivery partners here.

Mr Syafiq Yussoff, owner of Riverwood, said that his firm has dedicated nearly half of its fleet of 60 vehicles to serve Amazon deliveries.

The company is planning to purchase more vehicles and hire up to 50 more drivers, including part-timers, to meet the "huge" demand from Amazon orders, said Mr Syafiq, 33, who has been helping to run deliveries.

Mr Tan Ee Hsing, founder of a Facebook support group for Uber and Grab drivers, said that about 60 to 70 of its members were hired for deliveries by Amazon's recruitment partner, Adecco.

After finding on launch day that it needed more to meet demand, Adecco asked him to help find another 100 drivers, said Mr Tan, 41.

A post on the group's Facebook page, The Graveyard Shift Team, drew about 120 responses, he said.

Sales associate Chris Lim, who tried to place an order two days in a row without success, said he is giving up. Mr Lim, 26, said: "Amazon should have prepared better. How can you be a two-hour delivery service when you can't even place an order for the next day?"

But account manager April Chia, 31, who tried to order groceries on Thursday evening and found that deliveries were still unavailable yesterday afternoon, said she remains a fan.

She said: "It's not exactly an urgent order... I'll give them some time to fix the logistical issues. They have blown me away several times with their customer service before; I'm sure they will fix this soon."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2017, with the headline 'Amazon hires more drivers to meet demand'. Print Edition | Subscribe