JD Malone The Columbus Dispatch
Aug 29, 2018 at 12:01 AM
Amazon‘s Prime Now service will now deliver thousands of Whole Foods items in Columbus — far beyond the small selection of items formerly available — including fresh produce, meats and every day staples.
Amazon has finally answered the question that central Ohioans have been asking for the past year: When will Whole Foods offer delivery?
The answer is today.
Amazon‘s Prime Now service will now deliver thousands of Whole Foods items — far beyond the small selection of items formerly available — including fresh produce, meats and every day staples. Orders can be delivered in as little as an hour, just like the Prime Now service offers for popular items like TVs, ice cream and toys.
Since Amazon bought Whole Foods a little more than a year ago, most of central Ohio‘s grocers have raced to bolster online ordering platforms, curbside pick up services and delivery. Kroger, Giant Eagle, Meijer, Walmart, Costco and others have teamed with third-party providers like Shipt and Instacart to please a growing subset of consumers who crave the convenience of never stepping foot in a store.
“We were at a tipping point,” Darren Seifer, NPD Group‘s food and beverage industry analyst, told The Dispatch in June. “Amazon really spurred other players to up their game. It had a ripple effect in the grocery industry to make e-commerce easier to use and more widely available.”
Kroger and Giant Eagle have also started offering a scan-as-you-shop option at some stores that lets customers quickly stop and pay, avoiding the need to unload groceries at checkout lines.
More than 90 percent of consumers still shop at a physical grocery store, but as rising generations expect more from retailers, they will expect stores to solve their problems, like getting dinner to their home, Seifer said.
Cincinnati-based Kroger, the nation‘s largest grocery chain and central Ohio‘s leading grocer, has been active in response to Amazon moving into its territory. In recent years, Kroger bought a data analytics company, invested in a U.K. supply chain startup and just this month struck a deal with Alibaba, China‘s version of Amazon, to sell products on its sites.
Whole Foods has three central Ohio stores, in the Dublin, Upper Arlington and Easton areas.
Amazon brought Prime Now to Columbus a few years ago, occupying a small warehouse in the city. The service, which focuses on a small selection of popular items, is separate from the gargantuan distribution centers the company operates.
Amazon is rolling out the Whole Foods delivery service to other markets as well on Wednesday. Dayton, Washington, D.C., Portland, Ore., and additional parts of New York City, will also be able to order via Prime Now.
Amazon will offer 2-hour delivery from Whole Foods free, but like other delivery services, Prime Now requires a membership. Amazon‘s Prime is $13 a month or $120 a year. The service includes access to the company‘s video streaming service, unlimited reading on its Kindle devices, free shipping on most Amazon orders, and other benefits.
Delivery will be offered from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. To find out whether customers can access to the service, they should tell their Amazon smart speaker, “Alexa, shop Whole Foods.” In fact, Alexa can store the entire order and send it to Amazon for processing.