Amazon’s looking to launch convenience stores to sell perishable goods

Amazon’s looking to launch convenience stores to sell perishable goods like products, milk and meat, as well as offering drive-in pick-up locations for grocery orders, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The plan would expand Amazon’s grocery reach beyond just Amazon Fresh, giving it both a brick-and-mortar presence, and a streamlined pick-up process that could make it easy for people to knock out the grocery list on their commute without so much as setting foot outside their cars.

The plan is called “Project Como” internally, WSJ reports, and would be rolled out excessively for use by Fresh service subscribers, at least at first. The Fresh subscription would in this way begin to resemble more something like a Costco membership, giving shoppers exclusive access to physical shopping experiences on top of the base service of same-day food delivery at pre-scheduled times.

Amazon’s plan would focus on goods with a very short shelf life for in-store pick-up, while longer-life products like peanut butter would be available for order and delivery via touchscreen present within the retail location, or through a user’s own mobile device. The report also says that Amazon might be a year or more opening these stores, since they’re currently only looking into potential locations. It also claims the whole project might be scrapped due to costs or other setbacks. The drive-up grocery pick-up plans might be further along – Amazon could open one in Seattle in the coming weeks, the WSJ’s sources claim.

While Amazon has been operating AmazonFresh since 2007, it’s been slow to roll out availability of the online grocery service, introducing new regions slowly with availability in 10 or so markets as of this writing. Grocery is a much trickier and cost-heavy business to operate given the short shelf life of many of its products, and the need for more rigorous climate controls during transportation and storage, which means it’s more difficult to scale. If successful, a combined physical retail/online approach could alleviate some of the concerns around scale and make expansion, at least in urban areas, much easier.

An Amazon spokeswoman said “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation” in response to a request for confirmation or comment.

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