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Retail Industry Updates

Amazon Fresh Opens First Store. How Many Will There be in 10 Years?

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The first Amazon Fresh grocery store opens today in Woodland Hills, Calif., to a select group of customers before it opens widely to the public in the coming weeks. It’s food for thought to think how many Amazon Fresh stores might dot the country 10 years from now and if Amazon will convert the 500 Whole Foods Market stores it acquired three years ago into Amazon Fresh stores.

For now, Seattle-based Amazon said in a blog today that the 35,000-square-foot Amazon Fresh store is “designed from the ground up to offer a seamless grocery shopping experience, whether customers are shopping in-store or online. Amazon is also promoting the store’s low prices, something Whole Foods (sarcastically known as “Whole Paycheck”) is not known for.

“We’ve taken our decades of operations experience to deliver consistently low prices for all, and free same-day delivery for Prime members,” Jeff Helbling, vice president of Amazon Fresh Stores, wrote in the blog.

Amazon Fresh, like most grocery stores, will offer national brands, produce, meat, seafood and prepared foods made fresh daily, including fresh baked bread, made-to-order pizzas, rotisserie chickens and hot sandwiches.

Amazon Fresh will also offer private brands, as Heibling says in the blog that the store is offering the Fresh brand of natural whole chicken with no added hormones for 99 cents a pound. The store will also sell Amazon’s Cursive brand of wine and its Happy Belly private label snacks. In addition, it will sell organic products in Whole Foods Market’s private brand line, 365 by Whole Foods Market.

The store also features the new Amazon Dash Cart, which enables customers to skip the checkout line. The cart uses a combination of computer vision algorithms and sensor fusion to identify items that a shopper puts in his or her cart. When the shopper exits through the store’s Amazon Dash Cart lane, sensors automatically identify the cart, and the shopper’s payment is processed using the credit card on his or her Amazon account.

Helbling said that customers can find items in the store more quickly by using Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and Alexa shopping lists. When customers arrive in store, they can access their Alexa shopping list through the Amazon app or on the Amazon Dash Cart, enabling them to quickly navigate aisles and check off items as they shop. Throughout the store, Amazon Echo Show devices are available to ask Alexa for help. Customers can simply ask, “Alexa, where can I find the hot sauce?”

Helbling said Amazon Fresh will apply the same COVID-19 safety measures as Whole Foods has for the health and safety of employees and customers.

“We’ve taken learnings from them and applied the same safety measures — requiring daily temperature checks for all employees, requiring face coverings for all employees and customers entering the store, offering free disposable masks for any customer who wants one, and operating the store at 50% capacity,” he added.

Amazon has three other Fresh store locations in its plans located in Irvine, Calif.; Northridge, Calif.; and Chicago. No word on when they will open.

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