Change is on its way, as Amazon plans to open its first grocery store in Los Angeles this year, with two more for early next year.
Amazon is also considering launching grocery stores in several cities such as San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal. The new grocery stores would be separate from Amazon’s Whole Foods Market chain. Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods back in August 2017, its largest purchase to date, revealed the Internet giant’s ambition to expand into the lucrative grocery retail market.
The new purchase would enable Amazon to further establish its growing physical grocery store chain -something which the company has expressed interest in previously. Amazon is expected to open new Amazon 4-star stores and 3,000 new Amazon Go stores by 2021, its chain of grocery store without cashiers or checkout lanes.
The company is trying different grocery store models and options, while possibly buying new regional grocery chains. Amazon has signed leases in several locations but this does not guarantee immediate store openings. The Internet giant has expanded from its humble origins selling books online to music, products, equipment and more. Amazon has grown into a cloud computing service provider via Amazon Web Services (AWS), launching its own original Amazon TV series and movies via Amazon Studios, self-publishing options via Amazon Kindle, logistics services, digital advertising and even efforts in finance and health care. In September 2018, digital marketing research firm eMarketer reported that Amazon’s advertising platform is now the third largest behind Facebook and Google.
While a brand name for the new stores has yet to be announced, the stores are not meant to compete with Whole Food stores, which are considered more upscale and does not sell any products with artificial flavors, preservatives and the like. The new grocery stores will offer a variety of products at lower prices, similar to conventional grocery stores.
Amazon continues to experiment with food delivery services such as Prime Now and different sizes of grocery stores. Prime Now is a two-hour delivery option that Prime members can receive in over 60 cities. There is also online grocery pickup from Whole Foods stores in just 30 minutes for nearly 30 cities. Amazon intends to keep growing its Whole Food store footprint and also to encourage Prime members to shop at Whole Foods more.
The company aims to learn more about grocery shoppers and better serve them by offering better delivery and pickup options. Several supermarket giants such as Walmart and Kroger have already started to emulate this with their own options.
When the Wall Street Journal reported news about Amazon’s plans yesterday, share prices of supermarket companies immediately plunged. Kroger lost 4.5% of its value while Walmart went down 1.1%. Amazon shares on the other hand, rose 2% on the day.
Amazon is expected to choose a variety of options for grocery stores, ranging from new developments to stores currently occupied with leases that are ending soon. The stores are expected to be roughly 35,000 square feet in size, almost half the size of a standard 60,000-square-foot supermarket.
In addition, Amazon aims to sell different products at its stores beyond groceries such as health and beauty. This differs from traditional grocery store leases in shopping areas that tend to restrict the sale of some health and beauty products.
While Amazon’s final strategy remains unknown, many analysts estimate that the company will offer physical store sales in combination with e-commerce options for customers, with convenience for customers a top priority. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has always emphasized customer service as the company’s top priority.
Amazon’s plans for expansion in New York City with a new East Coast headquarters in Queens, has come under fire from some vocal members of the community. The company was courted by New York governor Andrew Cuomo who offered large incentives to the company. In mid February, Amazon withdrew its proposal to build a center in New York, while continuing to set up its center in Arlington, Virginia. According to the New York Times, Cuomo is continuing discussions with the e-commerce giant in attempts to win the company back, aiming to remove obstacles and showing unison with a signed letter from over 70 unions. A full page ad even appeared in the publication, with an open letter to Jeff Bezos, asking for a second chance to bring the jobs and HQ back to New York City.