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AmazonFresh expands offline collection points

Amazon is rebooting its grocery delivery service AmazonFresh, introducing a new subscription model, building another drive-up collection point in Seattle and planning a series of mini bricks and mortar locations for perishable food items.

As competition in the online grocery market heats up in the US and around the world, Amazon’s recent changes to the grocery delivery service all seem aimed at improving the customer experience.

A few days ago, the e-commerce giant introduced a new subscription model allowing Prime members to add AmazonFresh for an extra US$15 per month to their existing Prime subscription. The grocery delivery service previously cost US$299 per year and was available to anyone. While the new payment model only saves users about US$20 per year, once the annual cost of Prime is factored in, the smaller monthly fee is certain to be more palatable to customers.

Meanwhile, drive-up collection points are giving customers more options for their groceries to be delivered at a time and place convenient to them. This is particularly important for online grocery orders, which may contain perishable food items that will spoil if left on a customer’s front porch for hours while they’re at work.

The collection points, currently operating in San Francisco and under construction in Seattle, are designed so that customers can go into the store to pick up their groceries, or have them brought out to their car if they’re in a rush. The stores will also have tablets available so customers can order more items to pick up later.

GeekWire, which dug up Amazon’s publicly-filed planning documents for the Seattle store, has reported that the collection point is expected to operate between 0700 and 2200, while about 25 per cent of all trips are expected to occur between 1700 and 1930. The average wait time is expected to be about five minutes.

But click and collect locations are just the start of Amazon’s foray into bricks and mortar grocery stores, according to an article published today in the Wall Street Journal. The article cited an anonymous source familiar with Amazon’s plan to build physical convenience stores which will sell milk, meat and other perishable items.

The tiny grocery stores, known internally as “Project Como,” will be available exclusively to AmazonFresh subscribers. According to the report, the stores may take a year or more to open.

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