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Amazon this week has opened a new Whole Foods store in Brooklyn, New York - a permanent so-called "dark store" that only is being used to fulfill online orders in the borough.

The move builds on what Amazon/Whole Foods already was doing curing the pandemic - converting traditional stores into temporary fulfillment centers as a way of compensating for the dramatically higher demand for e-grocery created by the coronavirus.

The dark store is in Brooklyn's Industry City complex, about five miles south of the new Wegmans store opened last year adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

"Grocery delivery continues to be one of the fastest-growing businesses at Amazon," the company said. "We’re thrilled to increase access to grocery delivery. It’s never been more important."

KC's View:

One of the things that Tom Furphy has long said in our Innovation Conversations here on MNB is that Amazon, despite its e-commerce DNA, is agnostic when it comes to serving customer needs.  Which explains why it is operating at so many different levels at the same time (online, c-stores, traditional grocery stores, organic/specialty stores), and using so many different tech-centric approaches (checkout-free, Dash Cart, dark stores, Prime, Subscribe & Save).

A "dark store" essentially is a warehouse, albeit more of a micro-fulfillment center that can be more targeted in its focus.  One can imagine that Amazon could open such centers with two components - half dedicated to Whole Foods, and half to a more traditional selection - and being driven to an even greater degree by robotics that improve efficiency and productivity while reducing friction.

It is all Amazon's way of moving chess pieces around the board in a way that give it the best opportunity to meet and exceed customer demands.  Competing retailers have to be careful that they're not playing checkers.