The normally staid and stable supermarket business is suddenly a hotbed of activity. And the antagonist, per usual, is Amazon.
Reports from Seattle and California say the company is adding a new format and expanding beyond its Amazon Go and Whole Foods brands. According to Bloomberg, the site is under construction on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in Woodland Hills, a neighborhood in Los Angeles, and documents filed with the city show the new location is more like a traditional big box supermarket than a high-tech, high-priced Amazon location. The report said the store will sell products that Whole Foods doesn’t stock.
The report also states that the supermarkets won’t be cashless like Amazon Go stores. Although Amazon hasn’t commented, the strategy seems to be aimed at getting Amazon aligned with a more mass market customer segment than its other retail brands. Those consist of Amazon Books, Amazon 4-Star (online goods in brick-and-mortar stores), Whole Foods Market and Amazon Go. The latter operates without human cashiers. The newest offline expansion comes as Amazon’s revenue from physical stores topped $17.2 billion in 2019.
The most recent PYMNTS Walmart Amazon Whole Paycheck Tracker showed two expansion notes came out of Amazon’s stable of offerings in early February. Austin residents officially went online with Amazon Fresh this week, meaning Amazon Prime members can get free two-hour grocery delivery on orders of $35 or more and one-hour delivery for $4.99.
And Austin wasn’t the only locality that saw its Amazon access expanded — the good people of New Jersey will soon have not one, but two new Amazon stores in the real world. Amazon will open two of its 4-Star stores in the Garden State, one at the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne and another at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford. Amazon 4-Star stores carry Amazon devices, electronics, toys, books and home goods, all of which have been rated at least four stars from Amazon customers. And while any consumer can go into a Prime store, Prime members get the best prices on the merchandise, while non-members pay list prices.
Instacart Shoppers Get A New Platform
Meanwhile, online grocer Instacart is going social. It has launched Shop Talk, a proprietary social network within its shopper app that will enable its shoppers to leave feedback in the form of a virtual suggestion box. The ideas that receive enough votes from the community will be considered by the Instacart team.
“Instacart shoppers are picking and packing from the aisles of tens of thousands of grocery stores across North America every day. Each of those shopping experiences is an invaluable opportunity for us to listen, learn, and use feedback to develop a better shopper experience,” said Sean Twersky, senior director of operations at Instacart, said in a Feb. 19 announcement of the new platform. “With Shop Talk, we’re providing an online community where shoppers can engage with each other and the broader Instacart community. Whether it’s a new shopper looking for advice or a seasoned shopper with a great idea for a new app feature, every shopper has something to offer. We look forward to bringing together this diverse group of individuals to make the shopper community even stronger.”
Shop Talk has been piloted over the past several months, and Instacart claims it has built a user base of more than triple the average for similar virtual communities. “Shoppers spend an average of almost an hour a month in Shop Talk, viewing an average of more than five pages in each visit,” says the company.