Amazon launches free, 2-hour Entire Meals deliveries in 4 cities


Despite all the Jeff Bezos-Alexa memes and uncertainty about the future of grocery stores, Amazon's buyout of Whole Foods has proved to be nothing but a good thing.

The Whole Foods Market in Midtown New York is seen on June 16, 2017.

"We might not have every last item that could be available in your local store but we're going to have the vast majority of them", she said.

Six months after finalizing its acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon has begun offering free delivery of the organic food chain's products, including seafood, meat and produce.

Whole Foods delivery will only appear in four cities for now: Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Virginia. Delivery is free for orders of at least $35, and customers use or the Prime Now app to order. This is an incredibly important process for Amazon and Whole Foods to iron out, as consumers' leading reason for not using online grocery is that they want to pick their items themselves. Combined with Whole Foods' appeal, that may be enough to get consumers to choose Prime Now for grocery delivery.

Thomson Reuters Tomatoes are pictured at a Whole Foods store in San Diego.

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That means you can't mix together items offered by Amazon's shop and Whole Foods' shop and expect them to be delivered together. It estimates as of January, Amazon had 18% of online grocery sales in the United States. Unlike regular Amazon orders, filled by Amazon employees at enormous, purpose-built Amazon fulfillment centers, the Whole Foods orders will be filled by pickers who will actually go down the aisles of nearby Whole Food stores. These are Uber-like contract drivers who sign on for individual Amazon delivery shifts using their own cars but Amazon's routing app.

The service will only be available during the hours the Whole Foods stores are open, generally 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Amazon said in a press release that it planned to roll the program out to more cities this year.

"Without sharper pricing and fewer mistakes we consider incremental competition for brick-and-mortars to be minimal", he said.

There are about 60 million households in the USA that use Amazon's Prime service, and only about 22 per cent of those shopped at Whole Foods in December, according to research from Cowen & Co.

Whole Foods' private-label brand, 365 Everyday Value, is already available on Prime Now delivery in some markets, including NY.