Amazon.com Inc. is planning to build convenience stores and develop curbside pickup locations for food shoppers in its latest move to expand into groceries, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Amazon’s stores will sell perishable goods including milk and meats, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources. Customers in the stores can also order other items with longer shelf lives for same-day delivery, the Journal said.
The Seattle-based e-commerce giant will also build drive-in locations for consumers in a rush where online grocery orders will be brought to the car. Only subscribers to Amazon’s Fresh service will have access to these stores, known as Project Como.
“We don’t comment on rumors or speculations,” an Amazon spokeswoman said of the stores.
Amazon Fresh is not yet available in Charlotte. But the e-commerce giant does have a local presence. Amazon is currently expanding its new, 400,000 square-foot receiving center in west Charlotte. The Seattle-based company also has distribution center in Concord, where it employs about 360 people.
And earlier this spring, Amazon expanded its free same-day delivery service to Prime account holders in 11 new metro areas, including Charlotte.
The grocery stores represent Amazon's latest move to disrupt brick-and-mortar food shopping that's still dominated by traditional retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. While Amazon has dominated in e-commerce, convincing customers to shop online for everything from toiletries to electronics, it has yet to crack groceries – which most consumers still buy offline.
Previously, Amazon had focused on fresh food deliveries rather than establishing a physical presence but it's encountering increased competition from Google, Instacart and others.
Wal-Mart, whose main selling point has been its physical reach, started a grocery pickup service more than a year ago and has now expanded it to more than 100 markets. Customers can purchase online, drive to the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store and have their orders delivered to their cars. Even as Amazon uses the Fresh grocery service and Prime membership to keep customers loyal, Wal-Mart is trying to create a better online experience. The Observer contributed.