Days after Amazon announced it would slash the price of its Fresh grocery subscription service, the company is reportedly jumping into the food delivery business with both feet, working on plans to open bricks-and-mortar convenience stores, and offering curbside pickup for Fresh orders.
The Wall Street Journal, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that these possible new Amazon ventures are aimed at increasing the company’s foothold in the grocery market, providing customers with an alternative that it is more convenient than trekking to the supermarket or waiting at home for a delivery.
The physical Amazon stores — currently codenamed Project Como — would function much like bodegas and convenience stores found in larger cities, offering customer the ability to quickly purchase both perishable and non-perishable products, like milk, meats, peanut butter, and other items.
To start, sources say the service will only be available to members of Amazon’s Fresh subscription service. However, unlike the service’s typical delivery option, the physical stores give customers the chance to pick out their own produce or simply grab their needed items on the way home from work, the gym, or other daily activities.
Shopping at the stores could be done either by mobile phone orders or through touch screens around the building.
Don’t expect to stop by for a gallon of milk anytime soon, the sources warn, noting that it could take more than a year for Amazon to scout locations, find products, and open the shops. Additionally, the company could scrap the idea at any time.
Amazon’s second grocery venture would entail opening dedicated drive-in areas for customers to pick up their orders curbside. The sources say the service will likely be tied to Amazon’s rumored soon-to-open physical grocery store in Seattle.
The store will provide customers with the ability to schedule order pickup in 15-minute to two-hour windows. To speed things along, sources say the company is working to develop a license-plate reading technology that would scan cars as they arrive.
The plans represent a turning-of-the-tables of sorts for Amazon and its brick-and-mortar competitors, like Walmart, which have been working to compete with the e-commerce giant online.
Amazon’s curbside pickup option will compete directly with Walmart’s own curbside pickup service that is expected to expand to all stores by the end of the year.
Amazon to Expand Grocery Business With New Convenience Stores [The Wall Street Journal]
by Ashlee Kieler via Consumerist