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Amazon Debuts New Physical Grocery Banner

First location under Amazon Fresh flag offers ‘seamless’ experience in-store or online
Photograph courtesy of Amazon

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. — Amazon.com Inc. has opened its first brick-and-mortar grocery store under the Amazon Fresh banner in Woodland Hills, Calif., inviting local customers to visit before it opens more widely to the public in the coming weeks.

The e-commerce retailer has designed Amazon Fresh from the ground up to offer a “seamless” grocery shopping experience, whether customers are shopping in-store or online, the company said.

The Amazon Fresh store offers free, same-day delivery and pickup for Prime members. Customers will find “consistently low prices” on a wide assortment of national brands and produce, meat and seafood, the company said.

Amazon’s culinary team offers customers a range of prepared foods made fresh in store every day, including fresh-baked bread, made-to-order pizzas, rotisserie chickens and hot sandwiches.

The store offers traditional checkout, but customers at Amazon Fresh will be able to shop using the recently introduced Amazon Dash Cart, which enables them to skip the checkout line, and new Alexa features help customers manage their shopping lists and better navigate the aisles.

The store also emphasizes employee and customer safety. “At Amazon Fresh, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our employees and customers,” Amazon said in announcing the new store. “Our friends at Whole Foods Market have done a fantastic job implementing comprehensive safety measures for their team members and customers, receiving recognition as a top retailer for their COVID-19 response.”

Seattle-based Amazon has taken those learnings and applied the same safety measures in Amazon Fresh, it said. These measures include requiring daily temperature checks for all employees; requiring face coverings for all employees and customers entering the store; offering free, disposable masks for any customer who wants one; and operating the store at 50% capacity.

Amazon Fresh Stores is headed by Jeff Helbling, an Amazon vice president since 2012 and a former principal at McKinsey Co.

Despite Amazon’s success in nearly every area of U.S. commerce and long a disruptive presence in the supermarket industry through center-store erosion and its ownership of the Whole Foods Markets brand and fresh-food delivery—as well as its disruption of the convenience-store industry through its Amazon Go frictionless stores—it hopes that the new concept will provide it with the greater frequency of shopping trips, deeper customer relationships and high customer counts inherent in physical grocery, according to Jon Springer, executive editor of Winsight Grocery Business, CSP’s sister publication.

Meanwhile, Amazon may be considering a rollout of Amazon Go’s “just walk out” technology to Whole Foods, the New York Post has reported.

Amazon, however, is also facing a grocery industry well-prepared for its arrival—in large part because of Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods in 2017, Springer said. That event helped to kick off abrupt change in the posture of the industry, with retailers since investing billions in digital transformation, mergers and acquisitions. Many of those retailers, including Walmart, Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, H-E-B and Ahold Delhaize, are themselves experiencing an unprecedented boom, with the coronavirus crisis triggering soaring sales at the same time that behind-the-scenes investment better prepared them to handle the additional volume and growth into new channels, he said.

 

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