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AmazonFresh launches in San Francisco

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Amazon.com is expanding its AmazonFresh service to another west coast city according to an article published in the Los Angeles Times on December 12, 2013.

AmazonFresh is yet another retail experiment spearheaded by Amazon.com and it seems to be catching on with consumers. The service provides delivery of Amazon.com products, fresh groceries, and other items to customers’ front doors, often on the same day. The service started in Amazon.com’s home base of Seattle and expanded to Los Angeles. Now, the service is going to be offered in San Francisco and it may expand to more cities in the near future.

Online grocery retailing is not a new concept, but it has taken time to develop. At present, there are other online retailers selling groceries to customers, among them FreshDirect, Instacart, and Safeway. Even Walmart is stepping up to the plate with its Walmart To Go service, now in a test- market phase. If Walmart’s service proves successful, other large retailers may get into the game in due time.

AmazonFresh is promoted mainly as a grocery delivery service, but it is more than just a delivery channel for food and household goods. AmazonFresh will also deliver electronics and even ready to eat meals from local restaurants. Eventually, it may expand to include virtually any retail items a customer wants, provided they can fit inside an AmazonFresh delivery truck.

One of the main reasons individuals reject grocery delivery services is because of shipping costs, but AmazonFresh appears to be getting this under control. Base shipping is free on orders over $35, but there is a standard, annual service fee of $299 for users in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This fee includes membership in Amazon Prime, a service that presently sells for about $79 per year. The $299 fee may seem steep, but it is a flat, one- time cost that could prove economical for those who plan to use AmazonFresh on a regular basis.

To entice customers in the newly opened San Francisco market, Amazon.com is going to offer a 30- day free trial. If the service proves successful, it may expand to more locations along the west coast and eventually progress eastward.

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