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Amazon turns Whole Foods into a drive-through with new curbside pickup service

You have to ask yourself if you would really wait in that long line at the fast food drive-through if you could just cruise by Whole Foods and pick up your kale-garnished seaweed salad on the fly. Yes, that’s a real thing now that Amazon just officially announced that it is field testing 30-minute pickups from Whole Foods, all without leaving your car.

The retail behemoth has begun testing the service on both coasts, starting in Sacramento, California and Virginia Beach,  Virginia, with more cities to come throughout 2018. Naturally, you have to be a member of Amazon Prime and order via the Prime app and place orders via the Prime Now app, choosing the pickup option at checkout. Customers can choose free pickup in as little as an hour on orders of $35 or more, or a fee of $2 for orders of $35 or less. Customers running faster than that can get curbside pickup in just 30 minutes for $5.

“Pickup from Whole Foods Market is a perfect option for customers who want to grab healthy and organic groceries at their convenience, all without leaving their car,” said Stephenie Landry, worldwide vice president of Prime Now, AmazonFresh and Amazon Restaurants. “A customer can order at 5:00 p.m., pick up at 5:30 p.m., and we’ll have their groceries loaded into their car just minutes after arrival. For an even faster experience, customers can tell us they are on their way using the Prime Now app and groceries will be ready as they arrive.”

Curbside pickup is expected to expand dramatically, especially to regional locations that already offer grocery delivery from Whole Foods Market, where the infrastructure is already in place.

Where is this all going? Analysts say it’s probably part of Amazon’s burgeoning strategy to boost its smart speakers and accompanying digital assistant Alexa as a sales platform. Amazon has recently been boosting Alexa’s ability to access  and add items to the Whole Foods cart as an integrated part of the Prime platform. Prime members are already being teased with 10 percent off select sale items and discounts on select popular products, provided they link their phone numbers or access the Prime App for in-store-scanning. Alexa already has a skill where customers can find out if pickup or delivery services are available in their area by saying, “Alexa, shop Whole Foods Market.”

Since Amazon acquired the high-end grocery chain for $13.7 billion in August of 2017, the company has been slowly and strategically aligning the two iconic brands. Echo speakers are now for sale in Whole Foods stores in addition to discounts for Prime members. Last month, Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, said that Prime benefits at Whole Foods are seeing the highest rates of adoption for an Amazon Prime perk in the company’s history. The strategy falls in line with a relatively new strategy of selling subscriptions via Alexa-enabled devices rather than physical products, such as Amazon’s Prime Video platform and Unlimited Music service.

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