Amazon experimenting with free grocery delivery service


Editor’s Note: This Best of Clark repeat featured info on Amazon Tote, a program that has since been discontinued.

Traditional supermarkets are under assault from every direction. You have the high-end competitors like Whole Foods, the off-beat guys like Trader Joe’s, the hard discounters like Aldi and Save-a-Lot and then the national warehouse club chains Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale all eating your lunch. It’s not a happy business to be in, with some supermarket chains shrinking and others even going bankrupt.

Well, here comes some more potential bad news for the supermarkets that could be good news for you. Amazon is testing a new program called AmazonTote for home delivery of groceries in select Seattle neighborhoods. The Seattle Times reports things are going so well that Amazon may potentially launch Tote as a national initiative.

When I was kid, we used to have deliveries at our house back then. I recall the milkman would come twice a week. You’d leave a slip to tell him (and back then they were all men) what kind of milk you wanted, if you wanted orange juice or eggs and so on. You returned your empties in a container and the milkman took them away.

Amazon is essentially looking to do a modern version of this, where you set up with Tote what you want on a regular basis. My family goes through 2 gallons of milk a week, so that’s something we could potentially order from Tote. There are no subscriptions, no minimum delivery sizes and no fees.

What’s happening with the supermarket business is just downright scary. If you go down the non-food aisles, you’re just padding the pockets of the supermarkets by paying those high markups on things like paper goods and detergent. That’s money that is vanishing from your life, all for the sake of convenience shopping. So AmazonTote aims to offer convenience and lower prices than you usually get.

How will the traditional supermarkets survive if this comes to pass?!

Note: This segment originally aired February 2011

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