Following news from earlier this month which saw Amazon testing the waters with a Grubhub-like restaurant delivery service via Prime Now, the company announced this morning its one-hour delivery service is today going live in its 13th market worldwide, with a launch in Los Angeles and Orange County. What’s notable about this expansion, however, is the accompanying news that Amazon has established four Prime Now hubs in southern California which will allow it to deliver tens of thousand of items on-demand, including cold foods and frozen items from grocery stores, in addition to household goods, gifts, electronics and more.
The company says it has established three Prime Now hubs in L.A. and one in Orange County to fulfill orders to a large area of southern California – including cold items.
Over the course of the next few days, Prime Now customers in L.A. will be able to shop local stores from the app, including Sprouts Farmers Market, Bristol Farms, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Fresh & Easy, Erewhon Organic Grocer and 99 Ranch Market. Yes, this means yet another Prime Now city is going live with support for deliveries from local grocery stores.
This is not the first time Amazon has offered cold grocery delivery through Amazon Prime Now, to be clear. Prime Now users in Manhattan can shop for groceries and other gifts and goodies from Westwide Market, D’Agostinos, Gourmet Garage and Billy’s Bakery, while those in Portland can buy from New Seasons Market, World Foods, Uwajimaya, and Cupcake Jones, for example.
However, Prime Now’s continued expansion into the realm of grocery delivery leaves some questions with regard to Amazon’s intentions with the AmazonFresh grocery delivery service. That service, live in Seattle, New York (Brooklyn), Philly, plus Northern and Southern California, offers both unattended doorstep delivery using temperature-controlled tote bags as well as one-hour delivery windows.
But the company has been experimenting with how it charges for AmazonFresh – it toyed with the idea of making it a Prime benefit, for example, while continuing to roll back the deadline to subscribe to the $299 per year service.
And as more Prime Now supported cities have access to groceries on demand – including as of today in Southern California where AmazonFresh operates, it’s clear there’s going to be some overlap between the two services. And if you can get your groceries on demand in two hours via Prime Now for free, it’s hard to justify paying an annual fee for AmazonFresh. (Perhaps that’s why Amazon tested a $7.99 per delivery model this June with AmazonFresh Californian customers, which matches up with Prime Now’s price for one-hour delivery?)
When asked about the overlap, an Amazon spokesperson only responded by noting that Prime Now was designed for “superfast” deliveries of tens of thousands of items in partnerships with local stores, why AmazonFresh’s selection was more extensive, with some 500,000+ items and both same-day and early morning delivery options.
That being said, it seems that Amazon is quietly working to expand its grocery delivery options via Prime Now. For example, a recent report noted that Amazon leased a new warehouse outside of Boston which includes coolers and freezers for perishable items, ahead of a launch in that city. There are other indications that Amazon is getting serious about Prime Now as well, including the launch of restaurant deliveries and alcohol delivery in select regions.
The expansion makes this Prime Now’s 13th supported location worldwide. The service is already live in Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Indianapolis, Manhattan, Miami, Portland and Seattle, in the U.S., as well as London.
In L.A. and surrounding areas, including Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Silver Lake and Irvine, for example, Prime Now will be available 7 days per week, 8 AM to midnight.