Amazon Launches its First Drive-Up Grocery Store in Seattle!

Seattle, Amazon’s preferred test city and where it has already launched its checkout-free supermarket Amazon Go, is now home to Amazon’s first drive-up store: Amazon Fresh Pick Up.


For a long time, I thought it unimaginable that Amazon might one day open physical stores. But the evidence is before us, and I have to admit I was completely wrong. Or maybe Amazon realized that 100% delivery of fresh products was not a viable economic model in the long term given the costs of delivery and customers’ expectations of ultra-fast service. At this pick up store, your order becomes available in 15 minutes, even for just one product. This service is of course limited to Prime customers (called Amazon Premium in France).


In fact, it seems that Amazon, just like French distributors before them, has felt a need to create a service halfway between online and in-person shopping based on the concept: “I prepare your order and you come and pick it up”. Everyone plays their own role.


Another reason I never imagined Amazon would open stores is because running a store is in itself a specialised trade and an art. Well, now it seems like Amazon could excel at it!


Here is the first official video for the launch of Amazon Fresh Pick Up: 


In all likelihood, Amazon’s drive-up services will soon reach France. Why? Because when a concept is proven effective, Amazon does not hesitate to replicate it around the world. And there is no need to worry about administrative permission and constraints when opening a drive-up point because they are warehouses, not stores.


And duplicating a concept? That is what is happening now with Prime Now services. In two years, the service has spread to twenty cities through partnerships, like with French companies Bio C’ Bon and Lavina, as well as Eataly in cities where the restaurant/caterer is present.


Amazon has taken the best of all approaches to create its own model which is none other than an equivalent to a French drive-up warehouse. It is interesting to note that the route they took was the same… but backwards:


– French brick and mortar distributors created the drive-up model in reaction to traditional online shopping which led to competition even with their own brand (for example, Auchan Direct was competing with Auchan). The idea was to bring sales back to stores, since they anticipated declining numbers visits to stores, something they actually accelerated with this model. The big idea was to transfer the delivery cost to the client following a concept based on: I prepare your package and you pick it up”.


– The world leader in online sales has come to the same conclusion. Understanding that it will never be able to optimise delivery costs with its little green trucks, Amazon has invented a model or been inspired by the pick-up / click-and-collect / drive-up model–it has many names. But I prefer to call it a drive-up model because of the platforms. … “Let’s put our Prime customers to work by inviting them to come pick up their own food orders”. 


With this concept, Amazon is preparing an offensive – or a counter-offensive – against Walmart, which is also starting to use the pick-up model, greatly inspired by our French drive-up model. 


I also love the new Fresh logo, especially the delicate little leaf on the letter “R”. With the testing of both Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh Pick Up, it seems as though the brand is playing with status signs, not becoming a hard discount retailer.


By Jean-Marc Mégnin