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Amazon Seeks to Put a Big Foot Forward in the Grocery Business

Amazon, as its name implies, is, indeed, a giant, and now the retail behemoth is looking in earnest for ways to take over the grocery business.

The problem with adapting its online shopping model to the buying of groceries is that…you’re buying groceries. Food, and particularly meats, dairy, fresh produce, and other very perishable perishables, hardly lends itself to being left on doorsteps for hours at a time.

Still, Amazon very much likes the core model of shopping for everything on the Internet, and believes it may have found a way to capitalize on the interest of people…particularly millennials…to buy groceries the same way.

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The answer, for Amazon, may be to split the difference just a little, and create bricks-and-mortar “pickup locations” to which customers who’ve ordered their groceries online may travel to gather their purchases.

As it is, Amazon has been slowly rolling out its AmazonFresh concept since 2007, wherein it does deliver a full slate of grocery choices, including perishables, to customers within 24 hours from time of order. However, the service, which began in 2007, is still available in just a handful of markets.

The problem with this method of grocery shopping remains the “delivery” part of the process. When Amazon drops your microwave oven off at the front door at 10 A.M. on a hot July day while you are at work, it doesn’t matter if the box sits there for another eight hours waiting for you to return home. Groceries, however, are a different story, which is probably the biggest reason AmazonFresh has struggled to gain real traction.

By putting more of the responsibility for the receipt of the grocery order back in the hands of the customer, however, Amazon may have found a way to have its cake and eat it, too. “Click-and-collect” grocery shopping models, where customers place their grocery orders online and then travel to a store parking lot for pickup, have been in place for a while now at retailers like Wal-Mart and Kroger. Now, Amazon is going to the trouble of trying out its own expressly-built pickup locations…that look something like gas stations…to mimic what the other click-and-collect grocery retailers have been doing.

Will this be the key to Amazon finally capturing a sizable portion of the grocery market?

Only time will tell, but when it comes to shopping online in any form, and for anything, one would be wise not to bet against Amazon.

By Robert G. Yetman, Jr. Editor At Large

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