As the online grocery market heats up, Amazon appears to be nearing completion of its first drive through grocery pickup location in its home-based town of Seattle US.
According to signage and permit documents viewed by Geekwire, Seattle municipal officers have granted permits to signage that says: “AmazonFresh Pickup”, “Shop online. Pick up here” and “Relax while we load your groceries.”
As Amazon keeps its grocery ambitions tightly under wraps, there is speculation that 20 of its pickup grocery stores could roll out across major US cities over the next couple years.
Amazon Fresh’s pickup store introduces some new features and technological innovations. While fresh produce like milk, cheese, meats and vegetables can be picked out by consumers themselves, longer life merchandise like cereal, peanut butter and crisps could be picked by its robots working on the second floor, which customers can choose using either their smartphone app, or via touch screens in-store. Groceries could then either be delivered promptly to the customers’ address, or picked up via its drive through platform.
This follows the launch of its “checkout free” Amazon Go grocery convenience store, which operates via customers launching a QR-Code based app, which they scan upon walking into the store. Amazon’s “Just Walk Out” technology keeps track of items that are picked off, or returned back to shelves, and keeps track of them in the customer virtual cart.
One possible inspiration behind AmazoFresh’s planned pickup store is the paper written by (now an Amazon personnel) Bittain Ladd titled “A Beautiful Way to Save Woolworths,” (referring to our Australian Woolworths) which he posted on his Linkedin page in 2013. Written prior to Ladd onbarding Amazon, the paper describes a grocery store that combines the best of brick and mortar (for items that customers generally want to see, touch and smell and pick themselves like fruit and meat), with the best of e-commerce (including commoditised items like laundry detergent chosen by robots), endless aisles (represented by in-store touch screens or smartphone app) that promises either fresh and convenient pickup or fast home delivery.
“Amazon can leverage stores for drive thru grocery pick-up where possible, and even leverage the stores for Amazon Locker locations,” wrote Ladd. “In essence, AmazonFresh becomes an ecosystem of channels centered on food and groceries capable of meeting the needs of all customers through all available channels. All grocery retailers must think in terms of creating an ecosystem for their customers. All grocery retailers must plan in terms of decades and not quarters, or most assuredly they will be left behind.”