Amazon has found another way to leverage its acquisition of Whole Foods to get more Prime subscribers and Alexa voice shoppers. The company announced last Thursday that Prime members in select cities will now be able to place two-hour grocery delivery orders from Whole Foods. Orders over $35 are delivered for free within two hours. For orders under $35, users will pay a $7.99 fee for one-hour delivery and $4.99 for two-hour delivery. The service is available in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach but Amazon plans to expand it across the US later this year. Amazon is also using in-store marketing displays to advertise the new service, similarly to how it leveraged its new brick and mortar presence to display and sell Echo devices. Even if you’re not a regular Amazon customer, the company is ensuring you are aware of the new service.
Voice Shopping Takes Instant Delivery to the Next Level
Amazon has also found another tool to make Alexa even more useful as Prime Now ordering is already available on the company’s voice assistant. With just a few quick voice commands, Alexa users and loyal Whole Foods fans can place an order in seconds and have it their door in two-hours. That is about as “instant” as it gets. The convenience of voice shopping also happens to be an absent feature of Amazon Prime Now’s main competitor: Instacart. Before Amazon purchased Whole Foods, Instacart was the exclusive food delivery for the grocery chain. Not anymore.
But Instacart isn’t going down without a fight. The company recently purchased Toronto-based startup Unata, that was reportedly developing a voice-activated software tool that works with voice-first devices like the Google Home. One could see Instacart joining forces with Google and its Google Express shopping service to take on Amazon. This would increase Google’s delivery service options and also allow Instacart to take advantage of Google Assistant’s large user base. Google has already secured the largest grocery retailer in the US as a partner, as Walmart has almost 15% of the grocery market share. Whole Foods and Amazon combined make up less than 2%. However, with 2017 online grocery sales totaling $14.2 billion you can bet Amazon’s competitors are taking note. Two-hour delivery and voice shopping could be the new normal by the year’s end.