First it killed the bookstore (sort of). Now, it appears Amazon is on a fast track to shake up the grocery industry, reportedly expanding its push into groceries with brick-and-mortar stores. According to the Wall Street Journal, the tech giant is aiming to roll out both convenience stores and curbside pickup locations.
The convenience stores, reports WSJ, “would sell produce, milk, meats, and other perishable items that customers can take home.” Unlike a traditional grocery store, though, customers could use their mobile phones or touch screens to order other items (i.e. those with a longer shelf life) for same-day delivery.
And, in true Amazon fashion, the company is also close to rolling out curbside pickup locations, where online grocery orders would be delivered to the car. It’s also rumored to be working on technology that will speed wait times: License plate readers would allow customers to drive up, and the store would get an alert inside that the customer has arrived.
The internet giant has moved far beyond selling books in the years since it launched, and food is a big part of that expansion. Amazon currently offers both restaurant and produce delivery and in May, it announced it would partner with Tyson on a line of chef-inspired meal kits.
Amazon is largely credited with killing the bookstore, so it raised eyebrows when it announced it would be opening brick-and-mortar bookstores. With its grocery delivery project, AmazonFresh, many thought the company was moving in on a new turf, one that would eventually lead it to kill the grocery store. But consumers aren’t quite as comfortable with ordering, say, raw chicken online as they are with ordering a book.
Recently, it lowered the price of AmazonFresh, giving consumers even more reason to shop for food online, rather than in-person. In the past, shopping via AmazonFresh required a $299 yearly subscription. Now, Amazon has rolled back that price for its $99-per-year Amazon Prime members, to $15 a month.
Lower prices might lead more to shop for groceries online, but not everyone will be so willing. Those that still want to shop for food in-person are the target market for the forthcoming convenience stores, which WSJ reports “are designed to capture the large share of people who prefer to pick out their produce or bring home their groceries on the way from work.”
The stores — known internally as Project Como — are reportedly being built for the exclusive use of AmazonFresh members, according to WSJ.
Amazon is also currently building a secretive, drive-in grocery store in Seattle, which could be a model for future projects, though the company hasn’t provided comment. When asked about its plans to open convenience stores or offer curbside pickup, an Amazon spokesperson said, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculations.”