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Amazon reportedly plans to open physical grocery stores in Silicon Valley

First 'concept' drive-thru location said to be in the works in Sunnyvale

<small>A rendering of the drive-thru grocery pickup concept submitted in planning documents (<i>Business Journal</i>).</small>
A rendering of the drive-thru grocery pickup concept submitted in planning documents (Business Journal).

Amazon might soon have a brick-and-mortar presence in your community. The online retailer is planning to test a new service that lets you pick up fresh groceries and other items from a physical location, reports the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

According to the paper's sources, Amazon (through a subsidiary) has signed paperwork for a retail location in Sunnyvale, California, and plans have already been approved for it to build out an 11,600-square-foot warehouse with eight car stalls for pickups. Planning documents submitted by a third party developer call project "a blended customer shopping experience, as it leverages both an online shopping platform and the traditional brick-and-mortar retail experience." After placing an order, you'd get to select a pickup time window. Then, all you'd have to do is stop by on the way home and pick up your items. It's said that there will also be a small store location on site, perhaps allowing customers to walk in and buy without placing an order online first. The image above is a render pulled from the planning documents.

Concept could reveal company's plans to expand AmazonFresh

Amazon already has a fairly significant presence in the groceries market. The company has run its AmazonFresh delivery service in select, densely populated metropolitan areas for a couple of years. It offers same and next-day delivery of fresh produce and other groceries directly to your door. AmazonFresh, and competitors like FreshDirect in New York City and Stop & Shop's PeaPod service in the Northeast, must grapple with the high cost of such deliveries, and, typically, the home-delivery business model doesn't make sense in less-densely populated areas.

If the Business Journal's report is accurate, this new grocery store concept might be Amazon's idea for expanding AmazonFresh beyond cities and into the suburbs. It might not be as convenient as having boxes of fresh produce delivered to your door, but such a service may never be a viable business in the suburbs. Alternatively, the grocery store concept could be designed as an alternative to home delivery for those who would rather pick up items on their own clock rather than waiting at home for the delivery truck to arrive with perishable goods. The service can also be seen as an expansion of Amazon Locker, which lets you have items shipped from Amazon.com delivered to local 7-Eleven locations and other stores around town for pickup at your convenience.

The Business Journal reports that this is just the first concept location for Amazon's new grocery plans — the paper's sources say that the company could be planning to open multiple such locations around the Silicon Valley area. That said, Amazon has yet to confirm any such plans.