retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Re/code reports that "Amazon plans to expand its Fresh grocery delivery service this year to new markets including Boston and the United Kingdom," after 18 months in which Amazon Fresh had not been expanded into any new markets.

The story notes that "Amazon began testing the service in 2007, but has been slow to expand it since then. Today, it is only available in parts of Washington state, California, New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia."

In a possible harbinger of heightened competition, Ahold-owned bfresh in Boston said it would launch its own online shopping service in Boston, using CartFresh, a Ukraine-based company, as its service provider.

Re/code goes on: "The new launches appear to indicate that Amazon is going all in on the grocery delivery market, which is tiny in the U.S. today — making up less than 5 percent of grocery sales — but has the potential to be a giant market ... The AmazonFresh service lets Amazon customers order groceries, including perishable items like dairy, meat and fish, for delivery within 24 hours. It's only available to customers who buy a $299 Prime Fresh membership, which also includes other perks that come with the company's regular $99 Amazon Prime program."
KC's View:
If Amazon plans to double down on the grocery delivery market, it is going to put even greater pressure on the retailers with which it competes. Not that they'll necessarily have to offer e-commerce options - like bfresh has decided to - but they certainly will have to come up with compelling alternatives if they don't.

I continue to believe that $299 a year is way, way too expensive for an Amazon Prime Fresh membership, and that it could end up being a barrier to people trying the service.

But here's the ultimate thing. Boxers, when they get into the ring, know that they can do enormous damage to an opponent with what's called a liver punch ... that's what everybody needs to be looking for. Amazon certainly is looking for it, and that's what its competitors need to do as well.