This year, category stalwarts Walmart, Costco and Target are joined by Amazon.com. With an estimated 80 million Prime subscribers — think warehouse club membership fees — and some 300 million other U.S. customers, Amazon certainly has the profile of a mass market retailer.
Another telltale sign is the broad scope of its merchandise, ranging from apparel and housewares to digital music and videos to jewelry and baby goods. The one area where Amazon doesn’t measure up is grocery, though its recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market is more than a step in the right direction. Not that it hasn’t been experimenting, testing and piloting, primarily on Prime members through a program called AmazonFresh. (This may be behind the speculation earlier this year that Amazon was interested in purchasing BJ’s Wholesale, the most grocery-oriented of the large warehouse club chains.)
Aping a number of bricks-and-mortar grocery retailers, Amazon launched AmazonFresh Pickup in April, allowing shoppers to order online and pickup at one of its two employee-only Seattle stores.
Pickup is a new wrinkle for AmazonFresh, which costs Prime members an additional $15 a month to order online and have the groceries delivered. Prime Now provides for groceries and other goods to be delivered the same day.