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Amazon offering delivery from Whole Foods through Prime Now

Service debuts today in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach with further rollouts planned

Amazon today introduced free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods Market items through its Prime Now service. Debuting in neighborhoods of Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach, Va., Prime Now customers can shop for best-selling groceries, produce, meat, seafood and other items via the Whole Foods Market selection at or by using the Prime Now app available on Android and iOS devices.

Amazon said it expects to expand the service across the U.S. this year.

“We’re happy to bring our customer the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” said John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Markets, based in Austin, Texas. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.”

Prime customers can shop thousands of Whole Foods items, including fresh and organic produce, bakery, dairy, meat, seafood, floral and everyday grocery staples. Select alcohol is also available for delivery. Prime members receive two-hour delivery for free and “ultra-fast” delivery within one hour for $7.99 on orders of $35 or more.

Delivery from Whole Foods Market through Prime Now is available daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. in select ZIP codes in the four cities. Customers can visit the Prime Now website or the Prime Now app and enter their ZIP code to see if delivery is available where they live.

Chuck Cerankosky, managing director, equity research analyst, principal with Northcoast Research in Cleveland, does not expect the Prime Now delivery to have a major impact on the competition.

“Whole Foods’ strength has always been in the fresh foods,” Cerankosky said. “People love to shop at Whole Foods for perishables, including seafood and bakery, and those categories don’t lend themselves to delivery so well. I think there will be some appeal here, but it is going to be rather limited. The Whole Foods business model is built around great fresh foods and that is a type of shopping that the vast majority of people prefer to do on their own.”

Several traditional supermarket operators are also upping their game in the online shopping business. Ahold was one of the originators of the concept with its Peapod home delivery.

More recently, ShopRite stores serviced by Wakefern instituted ShopRite from Home, with delivery provided by individual stores. While Whole Foods stores in ShopRite’s Northeast operating area do not yet offer the Prime Now delivery, during February ShopRite is running a promotion where shoppers can save $15 on perishables (produce, meat, seafood, bakery, floral, dairy) on a total ShopRite from Home order of $225 or more.

Meanwhile, competitor Acme Markets, a division of Albertsons, just instituted home delivery this year, using Instacart as its third-party delivery provider. Acme touts that its orders can be delivered “in as little as 2 hours” and is offering shoppers $10 off plus free delivery on their first online order of $35 or more.

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