It was only a matter of time. The service has launched in four markets with the rest of the country coming this year.
Amazon’s entire business model was built around the idea of bringing things directly to people’s homes. So as the “Amazonification” of Whole Foods continued after last year’s buyout, the question wasn’t if Amazon would offer Whole Foods delivery, but when. The answer is “now.”
Amazon announced this morning that it was launching free two-hour delivery on orders from Whole Foods for Prime members through its Prime Now service in four areas – neighborhoods in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach – with the promise of plans to expand to the rest of the United States this year. If for some reason two hours is too slow for you, Prime customers can also pay $7.99 for one hour delivery on orders of $35 or more. The service should be available during Whole Foods normal business hours of 8am to 10pm.
“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”
As far as what shoppers can choose from, most but not all Whole Foods items will be available. “We might not have every last item that could be available in your local store but we’re going to have the vast majority of them,” Stephenie Landry, vice president of Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Restaurants, told USA Today. That includes alcohol, with Amazon only stating, “Select alcohol is also available for delivery to customers.”
Of course, non-Prime members are left out on this new service, which shouldn’t be a major shock to anyone familiar with Amazon. In an effort to drive Prime membership, the retail giant has continued to tie new services to its annual membership program, and this could be Amazon’s strongest gambit yet. Turning the weekly grocery run into a two-hour wait on the couch would seem like a pretty compelling reason to get people to throw down the $12.99 monthly or $99 annual fee. And Landry said the Whole Foods delivery program is just getting started: “We’re going to have a huge expansion ahead.”