Amazon announced this week that it is expanding its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery and pickup service to all customers in every location where it is currently available, eliminating the previous requirement of a Prime membership.
The ecommerce giant had been testing the expanded access in select cities since August. Now non-prime members will be able to take advantage of its convenient grocery delivery options.
According to Amazon’s official press release, this change makes it easier for all shoppers to get groceries delivered in two hours or less. Amazon framed it as part of its mission to build the best grocery shopping experience by providing a great selection of products, attractive promotions, and convenience.
In addition to Fresh, customers can now order delivery from a variety of local supermarkets available on Amazon.com like Bristol Farms, Cardenas Markets, Pet Food Express, Weis Markets, and Save Mart. Amazon also plans to roll out delivery and pickup to non-Prime members for its Whole Foods chain of supermarkets soon.
Once fully implemented, customers in over 3,500 towns and cities will have access to two-hour delivery windows from either Fresh or Whole Foods. This significantly expands the retail footprint through which Amazon can offer speedy grocery fulfillment.
Prime Members Will Retain Some Exclusive Perks
While delivery is now open to all, Prime members will keep receiving exclusive discounts and perks. For instance, Prime subscribers can get free delivery on Fresh orders over $100, compared to the $7.99-$9.99 fees that non-members have to pay on orders of that size.
On smaller orders, non-Prime delivery fees will start at $3.99 for pickup, $7.99 for a 6-hour delivery window, and up to $14.99 for a 2-hour window. Prime members will pay less for those quicker deliveries.
Moreover, Prime customers will receive attractive perks like 5% back on Whole Foods purchases when using the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card. Prime members will also get exclusive coupons and discounts on select grocery items.
Thus, the expanded delivery access doesn’t remove all the benefits of a Prime account when it comes to grocery shopping. However, it does make Amazon’s grocery offerings available to those who don’t want to commit to a $139 annual Prime membership.
Amazon Bets on Brick-and-Mortar with New Fresh Stores
In conjunction with the delivery expansion, Amazon (AMZN) announced plans to open several new Amazon Fresh stores in the Los Angeles area.
The new stores will showcase a redesigned layout similar to what Amazon rolled out earlier this year in some Chicago locations. This next-generation grocery store format includes wider aisles, warmer lighting, and an updated produce department.
Amazon is also incorporating more of its technology into the Fresh stores. For instance, customers can use the Dash Cart, which automatically detects items placed inside and lets shoppers skip the checkout line.
In addition, new self-checkout registers provide a quicker way to pay that eliminates the need to wait for a cashier to become available. According to Amazon, over 90% of customers who were surveyed gave positive feedback on these tech features and the overall redesign of the Chicago stores.
The three new Southern California stores will open soon in Woodland Hills, Pasadena, and Irvine. In addition to the modernized design, the stores will offer a new product assortment including over 2,000 additional items.
Each location will also have an in-store Krispy Kreme shop, adding another draw and convenience for customers. As Amazon expands grocery delivery off-site, the company is also still investing in improving the in-person shopping experience.
Amazon Keeps Testing Changes to Improve In-Store Experience
The grocery announcements come as Amazon continues to make adjustments to its brick-and-mortar strategies. While the company is bulking up its Fresh and Whole Foods locations, it recently closed all of its bookstores, mall kiosks, and other physical retail concepts.
With grocery delivery surging in popularity, especially during the pandemic, focusing on that sector over lagging physical formats makes sense for Amazon.
The company hinted that more changes to its in-store experience will keep being tested with new concepts and tech being incorporated into its grocery operations. The goal is to combine digital convenience with high-quality in-store service.
For customers, the elimination of Prime membership requirements now gives them access to Amazon’s grocery offerings without paying a subscription. Meanwhile, the expanded and cheaper delivery options will continue to provide additional value for Prime subscribers who want even more grocery fulfillment choices.
It’s a pivotal moment in the evolution of Amazon’s grocery strategy. The company that started by selling books now delivers fresh produce to doorsteps in hours across the nation. By making speedy grocery delivery available to more customers, Amazon is betting big that it can dominate the future of how America shops its food and other essentials.