Amazon is launching a drive-up grocery service - here's how it works

Online giant Amazon (AMZN) on Tuesday fired another salvo at brick-and-mortar retailers with a new service designed for the time-sensitive shopper who purchases groceries on the internet. It is now restricted to the company's AmazonFresh Pickup locations in the SODO and Ballard neighborhoods in Seattle.

If you live in the Seattle area, are you looking forward to using AmazonFresh Pickup? Yes, an Amazon employee will bag your groceries and bring it to your vehicle in just 15 minutes. It also plans to expand on its Amazon Go concept into a full-sized grocery store. An Amazon spokesman said in a statement, "We are always thinking about new ways to serve customers, but thinking is different than planning". It's already available in many United States cities, and Amazon is also testing several futuristic options for Fresh, including drive-in grocery pickup centers in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood where shoppers have online orders loaded into their cars. That's because Amazon's system ditches checkouts and instead uses technical wizardry to automatically extract the total cost of your items from your bank account the moment you step outside. The store was due for public opening at the end of this month after a successful beta launch for Amazon employees in December. If the online retailer is successful in opening AR and VR homewares stores, then it would make things hard for the rivals.

The facilities are located in Ballard and in Sodo, under the AmazonFresh brand, the same outfit that has for years delivered groceries to customers' doorsteps in various cities.

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The company has reported difficulties when more than 20 people are in the store at one time. Amazon on Tuesday showed off a quick video and landing page for its newest store concept: grocery pickup locations.

How technology will factor into the e-commerce company's physical retail ambitions isn't clear. The latter suggestion isn't as unlikely as it sounds: Amazon has been pushing hard to make it big in India since it failed to capitalize on opportunities in China.

  • Darren Santiago