New York (CNN Business)Amazon wants to make grocery deliveries more convenient and protect them from theft and bad weather by bringing them straight into customers’ garages. The move comes as the company tries to expand its grocery business. Here’s how it works: First you need a compatible smart or wi-fi enabled garage door opener. Once that’s set up to work with the Key by Amazon app, Prime members can shop for Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh groceries online and select “key delivery” at check out. On delivery day, the driver uses a hand-held Amazon scanner to open your garage door (Amazon grants drivers one-time access through the device). Drivers drop groceries off inside and close the door behind them. Customers are notified about the delivery in real time. Walmart(WMT) already offers a similar service.
Amazon has had its eye on the grocery sector for years. But online grocery shopping didn’t really start to gain traction until the pandemic, when many people tried to avoid entering stores. Now, Amazon is betting people will continue to buy groceries online. It began testing out the in-garage grocery delivery service in five cities in November. Now, it’s making it available to everyone who has access to Amazon’s groceries -— millions of customers in about 5,000 US cities and towns.
People in 5,000 cities will be able to get groceries delivered to their garages via Amazon. “Grocery is certainly a center strategy for Amazon right now, as part of its overall strategic vision of being more present in customers’ lives and being part of customers’ everyday routine” said Rachel Dalton, director with Kantar Consulting’s ecommerce team. “Amazon is competing effectively in grocery, even though you may not think of Amazon as a grocer.”The company bought Whole Foods four years ago, and has recently started to open up more Amazon Fresh locations, which also sell groceries. Amazon has opened about a dozen Fresh locations around the United States over the past year, and says it has plans to open four more stores.
Grocery analysts say dozens more could be on deck.Amazon hopes that Fresh stores will encourage Amazon Prime members to do their grocery shopping through Amazon, increasing loyalty to the subscription program.Delivery to garages “is just another example of adding additional value to Prime members,” Dalton said.
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