Seattle based Amazon.com Inc. is aiming to open line of small grocery stores. These “Project Como” brick-and-mortar stores will sell perishable items like produce, milk, and meats that customers can take home. Initially only Amazon Fresh subscribers will be able to shop at them. Analysts believe that opening grocery sales would be crucial to the company’s growth.
Amazon is also setting up to open drive-in locations, where customers can pick up groceries that they ordered online. The company is developing license-plate reading technology to speed wait times. Recently Amazon dropped its $299 annual price for Fresh and instituted a $15 monthly fee, available to members of its $99-a-year Prime delivery service. These new stores are made to capture the large share of people who wish to pick out their produce or bring home their groceries on the way from work.
Amazon will have to compete with Wal-Mart, which plans to bring the service to nearly a quarter of its roughly 4,600 U.S. stores by the end of next year. Walmart has begun testing grocery pickup, along with other retailers like Kroger and Giant. Doug McMillon, Walmart’s chief executive says “We see a huge opportunity through pickup, particularly in grocery. The combination of digital relationship and stores is a winner.”