Company's employees trying out two locations in Seattle
Operating under the AmazonFresh Pickup banner, the locations are designed to allow consumers to order groceries online, choose a time to pick them up, and then pull up in one of the outlet’s drive-up parking spaces and have their purchases delivered to and loaded into their vehicle.
The two outlets, located in Seattle’s SODO and Ballard neighborhoods, have signage indicating the service is only available to beta program participants, who are Amazon employees. When the service goes live to the public, it will be available exclusively to members of the company’s $99-a-year Amazon Prime program, who will have access to free and unlimited pickups, with no minimum order size. Orders can be picked up starting two hours after they are placed.
AmazonFresh members, who pay $14.99 per month to have their online grocery orders delivered to their homes, will have faster access to the pickup service, with the ability to collect their orders after just 15 minutes.
Amazon hopes that its experiments with brick-and-mortar outlets will jump start its ability to become a significant player in the grocery business.
Amazon is also testing a convenience store concept, called Amazon Go. Introduced last year, the store is meant to up-the-ante in terms of shopper convenience, by doing away with cashiers and the need to wait in line to pay for one’s purchases. Instead cameras and other sensors track which items customers take from the shelves, and bills them for those purchases automatically when they take those products out of the store. Amazon Go is also in beta mode; it was supposed to open to the public in the first half of this year, but the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that the opening has been delayed because of challenges with the technology.