REUTERS: Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday said it was launching curbside pickup at Whole Foods stores, in its latest tactic to win over U.S. grocery shoppers.
Customers can place orders via Amazon's Prime Now app and ask to have groceries loaded into their car upon arrival at a store, the company said in a statement. The service is now available in Sacramento, California, and in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with plans to launch in other cities this year.
The world's largest online retailer is working to crack the US$800 billion market for U.S. groceries by popularizing delivery from Whole Foods stores, and now pickup. Cheaper than delivery, pickup has long been touted by far larger grocery companies Kroger Co and Walmart Inc, which have been rolling out the service to thousands of stores.
Whole Foods has 467 U.S. stores and roughly 1 percent share of the fragmented U.S. grocery market. Amazon bought the chain last year in a US$13.7 billion deal, and since then it has lowered prices and added delivery services so it could begin capturing shoppers' weekly spending on groceries.
Customers of the new pickup service will get designated parking spots at stores, Amazon said. They must be members of Amazon's subscription club Prime to use the service.
Amazon said pickup in an hour is free for orders of at least US$35, while pickup in 30 minutes costs US$4.99.
(Reporting By Jeffrey Dastin and Lisa Baertlein; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)