Amazon Considers Expanding Grocery Delivery Service

fromKPLU

Currently, Amazon.com only offers food delivery in Seattle, where the company is based. Food goes bad fast and it's hard to make a profit. But slim profit margins are what have made Amazon a juggernaut.

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Amazon.com has upended the retail industry in areas ranging from bookstores to jewelers. Now, it's lined up its next target, grocery stores.

From member station KPLU in Seattle, Ashley Gross reports.

ASHLEY GROSS, BYLINE: Until last year, Alitha Regalia had just bought things like books and shoes on Amazon. Now this mom of three little kids shops there for avocados, milk, pesto, and ice cream.

ALITHA REGALIA: You know, rocking one of the babies to lay them down for naptime, I can do my order right on my phone, which is really great.

GROSS: Wow, so you're doing your grocery shopping while you're rocking your baby to sleep. Multitasking.

(LAUGHTER)

GROSS: Regalia lives in Amazon's hometown of Seattle. The company's offered grocery delivery here for years. But now, Reuters and The Wall Street Journal report that Amazon's getting ready to expand to other markets, starting with Los Angeles.

REGALIA: Amazon wouldn't confirm it, but Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy says it makes sense.

R.J. HOTTOVY: You know, I think it's all about adding to its membership base.

GROSS: Delivering ice cream is tricky, but Hottovy says Amazon is a master of logistics. And he says because the company's been building warehouses across the country, offering more products is a good idea so its delivery trucks are full. But it's not good news for supermarket chains.

HOTTOVY: It's gotten to be a much more competitive space and when a very efficient and well capitalized player like Amazon gets into this space, it should give you reason for concern.

GROSS: Wal-Mart's testing out grocery delivery in the San Francisco Bay Area. So is Google.

REGALIA: You want some yogurt, too, with lunch?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: (Unintelligible).

GROSS: Alitha Regalia says at first she was reluctant to buy perishables online.

REGALIA: Yogrit(ph)? You got it.

GROSS: That's not the case anymore. Regalia says her weekly shopping now takes just 10 minutes and costs about the same as before. I asked her if it felt like a return to the days of the milkman.

REGALIA: No, actually it feels just the opposite. You know, you're using the computer to do your shopping. Very space age. George Jetson.

GROSS: Regalia says she has no plans to return to the supermarket.

For NPR News, I'm Ashley Gross in Seattle.

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