Whole Foods Offers Curbside Pickup in 1 Hour

The speedy service is for Amazon Prime members only.

October 26, 2020

SEATTLE—Amazon Prime members can now place an order at Whole Foods for pick up curbside in one hour, according to CNBC, which describes the service as the latest sign of the growing demand for curbside pickup.

Free for Prime members if the grocery order totals $35 or more, the new service launched last week at the 487 Whole Foods stores in the U.S. Prior to the announcement, Prime members could pick up Whole Foods orders only at select stores.

Prime members pay $119 per year for free shipping and access to other services like Prime Video and Music, as well as free Amazon Fresh grocery deliveries. Amazon began ramping up pickup options at Whole Foods stores in April during the height of the pandemic lockdown.

Shopping online and picking up orders in person has grown rapidly during the pandemic, alongside an overall spike in online grocery services. Shoppers increasingly turn to these services as they seek ways to reduce time spent in stores. However, these shopping options were on the rise pre-pandemic. While Amazon was focusing more on delivery, rivals Target and Walmart aggressively expanded curbside pickup.

Curbside pickup is more cost effective for retailers, since they no longer have to handle the expensive last-mile delivery process, according to Steve Caine, a retail expert and partner at Bain & Co. “Amazon is late to the game,” said Caine. “They’re really trying to catch up here with those who have been at this for a while.”

Whole Foods, which Amazon bought in 2017, has a smaller nationwide footprint and doesn’t provide the same amount of density in a local market as a local grocer or traditional big-box retailer like Walmart, he added. While Whole Foods has fewer than 500 stores in the U.S., Walmart has 4,700-plus locations.

By offering fast curbside pickup to Prime subscribers, Amazon is betting that interest in convenient pickup services will last long beyond the pandemic. Early signs are indicating that it could, with about 68% of U.S. shoppers saying they plan to use curbside pickup services more in the future, according to a recent study by GlobalData Retail.

“While COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of online grocery services and prompted new customers to try services like grocery pickup, it’s clear that this offering will become a more permanent solution for many customers,” Amazon said in a blog post.

Coronavirus Resources

NACS has compiled resources to help the convenience retail community navigate the COVID-19 crisis. For news updates and guidance, visit our coronavirus resources page.

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