So Amazon is about to start selling groceries. It’s been testing the service, called Amazon Fresh, in Seattle, and people there seem to like it, so they’re rolling it out to other cities. I should point out that Seattle is also where Starbucks® got started, so it may be time to ban Seattle from being the test market for anything.
I’ve been an Amazon customer since Jeff Bezos was in third grade, and I’ve purchased nearly every sort of item from the site to the point where our UPS guy really doesn’t like us very much.
But I don’t know about groceries. It’s not that I doubt Amazon’s ability to distribute groceries, it’s that I’m wondering how it will apply its usual marketing techniques to this new category. Will customers be getting messages like:
- People who bought Doritos Cool Ranch also bought Doritos Nacho Cheese
- Will you please review your recent purchase of prunes?
- New and similar to Perdue chicken breasts
- Best new fruit of June
- Your tilapia is rotting in your shopping cart
- Introducing Amazon Prime Beef
- Thank you for shopping with us. We thought you’d like to know that we shipped your Edy’s Ice Cream, and that this completes your order. Your order should arrive in 2-3 business days.
Although many companies have tried, groceries are one of the few categories that hasn’t made the move to the web in a big way. Prostitution is another. I think it’s because people are reluctant to spend money if they can’t squeeze the melons.
Also, if Amazon starts driving brick-and-freezer supermarkets out of business like they did bookstores, how would single people meet? I mean, isn’t grocery shopping the second most popular way to find your soul mate, right after AA meetings? Maybe Amazon could buy eHarmony and automatically match up people who purchase, say, gluten-free products.
One possible upside to an Amazon supermarket is if they can adapt the sampling feature from the Kindle. I love downloading the first few pages of a book to see if I like it. So let’s say you wanted to taste that new fruit drink. Amazon could deliver it wirelessly to your tongue via Whispernet. Then you could spit it out if you didn’t like it. But be careful; if you swallow it, you’ve bought it!
Another reason why other firms haven’t been able to make a profit from online groceries is because the margin on food is so low. Amazon thinks it can overcome this by profiting from other products shipped at the same time. But if I order a dozen eggs and a new TV, will the bagger know which to put in first?
I’d hate to have my order arrive with TV parts leaking out of the box.
See you soon.