Amazon to open quick pickup grocery shops: Report

The company tested its AmazonFresh service in its hometown of Seattle for nearly six years before expanding to other US cities and London in 2013.
The company tested its AmazonFresh service in its hometown of Seattle for nearly six years before expanding to other US cities and London in 2013.PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM AMAZON.COM

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Online retail giant Amazon plans to expand its grocery business with shops that let people quickly pick up milk, vegetables or other perishable foods, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday (Oct 11).

The Journal cited unnamed sources as saying Amazon will open real world shops to augment its Fresh subscription service that lets members order groceries for delivery.

An Amazon spokeswoman contacted regarding the report told AFP: "We don't comment on rumors or speculations."

Seattle-based Amazon intends to open small stores stocked with perishable items, and where shoppers can use smartphones or perhaps touchscreen stations to order longer lasting items such as canned goods for same-day delivery, according to the Journal.

Amazon will add drive-up locations where grocery orders will be brought to cars, and is working on technology to automatically read license plates to speed the process, the Journal reported.

The company tested its AmazonFresh service in its hometown of Seattle for nearly six years before expanding to other US cities and London in 2013. Subscriptions are US$15 (S$21) monthly.

This would not be Amazon's first foray into brick-and-mortar stores.

Long a behemoth in internet book sales, Amazon opened a physical book shop in Seattle last year and plans to expand in the US.

However, selling dairy and other perishable products comes with logistical challenges, such as refrigerated storage.

By expanding its offerings of fresh produce and other groceries, Amazon would increase pressure on traditional retailers like Wal-Mart, a popular stop for food shopping.