Amazon is quickening the pace at which Prime members can fetch groceries from its Whole Food stores across the country, responding to increased demand for curbside pickup by consumers looking to protect themselves amid the ongoing pandemic.
The e-commerce company is offering free, one-hour grocery pickup on orders of $35 and more at all 487 Whole Foods stores across the country, Amazon said Wednesday in a news release. Ahead of Wednesday’s announcement, Prime members could pick up groceries at only certain Whole Food stores.
The perk is the latest for Amazon Prime members who pay $119 a year for free shipping and services, including Amazon Fresh grocery deliveries.
As the spread of the novel coronavirus prompts Americans to continue to hunker down at home, Amazon and competitors Walmart and Target in recent months have expanded their curbside pickup services.
Both competitors out-muscle Whole Foods in terms of number of outlets, given Walmart’s more than 4,700 stores in the U.S. and Target’s more than 1,800 stores, versus less than 500 for Whole Foods.
In its latest announcement, Amazon signaled its belief that consumers will stick with grocery curbside pickup even after the current public health crisis subsides.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of online grocery services and prompted new customers to try services like grocery pickup, it’s clear that this offering will become a more permanent solution for many customers,” it said in its release.
More than 40% of Whole Foods pickup orders each month come from customers trying the service for the first time, Amazon said.
Amazon customers can access its pickup service through the Whole Foods tab on the Amazon app or website, the company said. Users pick a one-hour pickup window at checkout, and then notify the store when they’re on the way. Most people wait just a minute to get their orders, according to Amazon.