Amazon Prime members in the neighborhoods of Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach, Va. will now be able to get free, two-hour delivery from Whole Foods Market stores. The service will only be available during the hours the Whole Foods stores are open. Delivery is free for orders of at least $35. Amazon plans to offer the service more broadly in the future.
Customers can order most, but not all, items sold at local Whole Foods stores, including fresh produce, meat, seafood, baked goods, and flowers. The Whole Foods orders will be filled by pickers who will grab the items from the aisles of nearby Whole Food stores. Those pickers will not necessarily be Whole Foods staffers, according to a statement from Stephenie Landry, vice president of Prime Now, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Restaurants.
Amazon Flex delivery drivers will then deliver the picked orders, as they now do for Amazon, Prime Now, AmazonFresh, and Amazon Restaurants orders. Prime members can type their ZIP code into the Amazon website or the Prime Now app to see if the service is available where they live. Some Whole Foods stores already offer delivery through a partnership with Instacart. It is not clear whether that partnership will continue.
When Amazon announced it would acquire the upscale U.S. grocer for $13.7 billion, it shook up the retail sector. The purchase instantly made Amazon the fifth-largest grocery retailer in the country, behind Walmart, Kroger, Costco and Albertsons. As of January, Amazon had an estimated 18 percent of online grocery sales in the United States.
Whole Foods is known for its pricey organic options, with some people nicknaming the chain “Whole Paycheck.” Amazon lowered prices on some items at the stores after the deal closed. Whole Food’s 365 Everyday Value brand items are now the No. 2 best-selling private label brand on Amazon. There are currently 457 Whole Foods stores in the United States.
This is just the latest perk announced for Amazon Prime members. Launched in 2005, Prime is Amazon’s paid-membership program that gives access to a number of benefits, including free two-day shipping, unlimited video streaming, and online storage space. Amazon is believed to have over 90 million Prime members in the U.S. alone.