Amazon Beta Tests Grocery Delivery Service
Amazon.com has changed the way people think about buying books and it may soon be trying to accomplish the same feat in the grocery business with its new Amazon Fresh home delivery service.
The internet giant that has offered shelf-stable items and gourmet foods for sale on its website is beginning a beta test of a next day home delivery service of fresh items on Mercer Island in the state of Washington. The company is also offering a customer pickup service in Bellevue and Kirkland.
“It’s just starting out, and it’s very small. We are in the early-stage beta test, and it’s a better way to serve our grocery customers,” Craig Berman, a spokesperson for Amazon told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “We are offering a great selection and great prices at a really convenient experience.”
According to Mr. Berman, Amazon would offer items found in local grocery stores. Customers place orders online and have them delivered by Amazon Fresh refrigerated trucks during a prearranged hour on the following day. He also said the company was offering a “sleep tight” service where goods would be delivered in a temperature-controlled tote by 6:00 AM the next morning.
If Amazon should succeed with this service and expand it, the company would go head-to-head with similar services offered by Safeway and Albertsons in Washington State.
The choice of Mercer Island to conduct the beta test was done, said Mr. Berman, because, “It’s right in our backyard, and it’s a market we know. This is a great location for starting small. Starting in our backyard affords us the opportunity to evaluate how it’s going.”
Amazon sought to recruit Terry Drayton, the founder of long defunct HomeGrocer, to help it launch its home delivery service but the parties could not reach a deal.
Mr. Drayton expressed optimism that Amazon would succeed with its new venture even without him although he did question one aspect of the company’s plan. “I can’t believe they will do a local pickup. That’s one of those things everyone thinks is a great idea except the customers,” Drayton said. “People want you to deliver to their kitchen counters… What (customers) really want is the store to come to them.”
Discussion Question: What do you expect from an Amazon.com grocery home delivery service? What will it mean for Amazon and its competitors in the grocery market?