B.C. delivery services seeing boom in business as Canadians shop online while self-isolating

Click to play video 'Coronavirus crisis has been a bonanza for delivery services' Coronavirus crisis has been a bonanza for delivery services
WATCH: With so many people stuck at home, delivery services have been one of the major recipients of the coronavirus crisis, with a deluge of orders. Richard Zussman reports – Apr 14, 2020

Delivery companies are struggling to keep up with surging demand as British Columbians head to online shopping while remaining at home.

Raftaar Express, a delivery company in the Victoria area that carries packages from Amazon and other online retailers, has seen the number of deliveries double over the last few weeks.

The surge has led to an increase in demand for workers.

READ MORE: Experts weigh the pros and cons of food pickup, delivery amid coronavirus

“Since people are getting laid off every day, I’m getting resumes, people want to work,” Ravi Singh from Raftaar Express said.

“I have hired four people in the last week.”

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Uncertain times for B.C. restaurants – Apr 9, 2020

With the retail giant seeing high demand and longer delivery times than usual, Amazon has put in place new policies in order to prioritize deliveries.

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In some cases, products typically delivered within a few days are scheduled to arrive in a month’s time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“We are working with our selling partners to temporarily prioritize household staples, medical supplies and other high demand products coming into our fulfillment centres so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers,” the Amazon website reads.

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“Our teams are working to ensure availability of these products, and continue to bring on additional capacity to deliver customer orders. We are continuing to ship all available selection in our inventory.”

Online grocery stores have seen a surge in demand as well. Save-On-Foods has a wait of more than a week for delivery from Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island stores.

READ MORE: As coronavirus spreads, is it still safe to use food delivery services?

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Smaller retailer is struggling to keep up with demand, as well, with waits between a week and two weeks to have food delivered.

CEO Peter van Stolk says the company has had more than 10,000 job applicants in the last week, and even with the availability of increased drivers, there are challenges getting product in the hands of customers.

“We have got new trucks. We have contracted couriers, we have expanded the operation to meet demand,” van Stolk said.

The company is launching a new service of stay-at-home boxes. Customers will not be able to choose what products they receive and will include staples delivered in a ‘timely fashion’.

The overwhelmed delivery networks are leaving those who rely on delivery services in a bind. Concerns have been raised by those with with compromised immune systems and other health issues over not being able to get the necessities they need.

Lisa Corriveau has stepped in to help one of her friends who cannot go to the grocery store by shopping for her, loading up her cargo bike and delivering the products to her home.

“She is waiting two weeks to get groceries delivered from stores and when she does get it, half of the delivery isn’t there because they ran out of stock,” Corriveau said.

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Retail expert David Ian Gray says the pandemic is applying pressure never seen before for online retailers and the experience will leave a long-lasting impression.

“Shoppers are not going to be as picky as they were before COVID,” Ian Gray said.

“I think people are actually grateful to having something shipped to their doors.”