- Recent job listings indicate Amazon is launching a pickup service for Whole Foods Market, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The publication noticed two recent finance manager listings for "Whole Foods Pickup on Prime Now," noting the hires would build the new business "from scratch." Amazon took the listings down after the PSBJ inquired about them. Food Dive has reached out to Amazon for comment.
- The listings noted that the new service would be available through Amazon's Prime Now app, and that it would "enable our Prime customers to shop from a set of marquee third party retailers."
- In recent weeks, Amazon has launched same-day delivery from Whole Foods stores in six markets through its Prime Now service. The cities are: Dallas, Cincinnati, Austin, Virginia Beach, San Francisco and Atlanta.
That Amazon plans to launch a click-and-collect service for its recently acquired Whole Foods brand should come as no surprise. Competing grocers have latched on to this lower-cost model, and customers have come to appreciate having multiple options for online ordering.
After building out pickup services to hundreds of stores, Walmart and Kroger are rapidly expanding home delivery. Just Wednesday, Walmart announced it would boost its delivery program from six markets to 100 by the end of this year. Meanwhile, Target plans to offer Shipt home delivery from all of its stores by 2019, and at the same time expand its Drive Up click-and-collect program to around 1,000 stores.
Last year, prior to its Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon launched two "AmazonFresh Pickup" depots in Seattle. The test locations allow customers to order ahead, then drive up and have groceries delivered to their vehicles.
A recent report from Packaged Facts notes that store pickup accounts for 29% of all online grocery orders, while delivery accounts for 32%. The research firm also estimates that click-and-collect will continue to grow thanks to its low-cost model that utilizes existing stores, and that Amazon will be a major player in click-and-collect now that it owns Whole Foods.
"The company's new AmazonFresh Pickup service is a trial for exactly this type of acquisition," the report noted. "Amazon can now very quickly add grocery pickup points for online orders to all of the Whole Foods stores with very little investment."
Amazon will take lessons it has learned from its pickup depots. What's less certain is how, exactly, this service will look. Will it be available in all Whole Foods stores or just some? How will it leverage the program for Prime members? And perhaps most intriguing: Might Amazon build more standalone depots?
The mention of "third-party retailers" in its recent job listing seems to support the latter concept. In addition to Whole Foods products, Amazon might offer products from other grocers and collect fees for the service. Amazon currently fulfills online orders for small, mostly regional grocers — Sprouts Farmer's Market is its largest client — in various cities through Prime Now, and could bring them along on a venture like this.
In Seattle, the e-tailer offers delivery from PCC Community Markets and New Seasons Market stores. However, a PCC representative told the Puget Sound Business Journal that she was not aware of the service outlined by Amazon's job postings.
Although there are still many questions, what's clear is that Amazon wants to get as many shoppers as possible buying groceries online and in-store. It offers a wide array of items, including 365 products, on its site, and is quickly expanding its delivery service from Whole Foods stores.
Click-and-collect is the missing piece here, so it's not a matter of if, but when the company will establish this service on a broader scale.