Amazon has opened two drive-up grocery stores to the public after testing the locations first with its own employees. Both are in the Seattle area, and allow Amazon Prime subscribers to place an online order and choose a two-hour pickup window for when they’d like to drive over and retrieve it.
Despite the stores being called “AmazonFresh Pickup,” a membership to the company’s home delivery grocery service isn’t required. But if you do pay for AmazonFresh (an extra $14.99 per month on top of Prime’s usual cost), your groceries will be ready within 15 minutes. Regular Prime customers have to wait at least two hours before the earliest pickup window becomes available.
AmazonFresh Pickup isn’t quite as cutting edge as the cashier-less grocery store that Amazon is still privately testing — also in Seattle. That futuristic concept has apparently run into numerous technical problems and breakdowns during its trial run and a public opening has been delayed as a result.
The grocery drive-ups are a little more straightforward and could help Amazon as it tries to better position itself against US grocery giants like Walmart, which has recently been regaining share from other chains. According to The Seattle Times, the first time you visit one of the two AmazonFresh Pickup locations, a concierge will enter your name and vehicle’s license plate number into Amazon’s systems. That way, during subsequent visits a license plate reader will automatically identify you and signal to employees that they should bring your order out to your car. The Times notes that this license plate scanning can be disabled from Amazon’s website.