Amazon reportedly planning an all-new grocery chain separate from Whole Foods

Amazon has been steadily growing its retail footprint in recent years, though it’s now planning a major expansion beyond what most people were expecting, according to a report on Friday.

The company that made its name in ecommerce is looking to launch an all-new grocery chain comprising “dozens” of stores, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Sources claiming to have knowledge of the matter said the chain will have separate branding to Whole Foods, the grocery business that Amazon snapped up for $13.7 billion in 2017. This means it would likely offer a broader product range than Whole Foods, which focuses primarily on minimally processed items. Cheaper prices could also be on the cards, with the marked differences helping to minimize competition between the two brands.

Amazon is looking to open its first store under the new brand in Los Angeles before the end of 2019, with the company also in talks to open stores in Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Notably, the Journal’s report also claims that Amazon could rapidly bolster its new retail brand via the acquisition of regional grocery chains that already run at least a dozen stores.

Besides Whole Foods, Amazon’s food-focused businesses also include a grocery delivery service, as well as Amazon Go, a store using advanced tracking technology that enables shoppers to simply “grab and go,” with their Amazon accounts automatically charged.

The sources couldn’t say if any of Go’s smarts would end up in the new store, though if it’s not there at launch, it could be incorporated further along the road.

If Amazon goes ahead and launches the new grocery chain, the sources suggest it will be big on customer service, with online ordering and pick-up options also expected to be a major part of its broader offerings.

Walmart, the country’s dominant grocer, will be watching with great interest to see if Amazon moves to significantly expand its presence in the space. In a bid to stay ahead of the competition, the well-established retail behemoth has in recent years been rolling out pickup facilities at an increasing number of its stores, and also boosting its delivery network for customers who prefer to shop for groceries online.

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