By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer
Amazon added grocery services to their website in 2007, offering same day or next day delivery services of fresh food and prepared meals to customers certain markets. Now it seems Amazon wants to be in the delivery business in a new facet. Gizmodo and other technology news outlets recently reported the retailer is testing a restaurant delivery service in Amazon’s hometown Seattle. The service, known as Amazon Local, will compete with restaurant delivery companies Seamless, Delivery.com, and GrubHub. The service connects hungry customers with restaurants in Seattle, and to date, 141 restaurants have signed on as providers. Amazon chose not to announce the service publicly, and instead launched it quietly in their hometown.
Amazon Fresh is currently available in several markets, including certain areas of Brooklyn and Philadelphia, both of which were added to the availability this fall. Amazon Local began in 2011, and started out offering daily deals for services and goods in customers’ areas, with some deals provided through LivingSocial. The program now includes Amazon Local Services, which promotes local handyman and installation services in nine cities, as of November 2014. Now in Seattle, Amazon Local includes restaurant delivery, with the possibility of more cities getting the feature. For Amazon, Amazon Local restaurant delivery offers a selection of local options for consumers based on their zipcode. From there, customers can then place their order for takeout or delivery from their desired restaurant and pay with their credit or debit card saved to their Amazon account. The restaurant does the actual delivery, however, and still are able to set their own delivery fee and minimum order amount. Users can access the service via Amazon Local and the retailer’s apps for Apple and Android devices. When taken to the restuarant results page, the customer is presented with a list of participating restaurants within their delivery radius, with information on price, services, distance, and the business hours. The list of participating restaurants feature a diverse section of cuisine, such as pizza, Italian, sandwiches and more. Gizmodo reports that 22 restaurants are available for delivery.
The addition of restaurant delivery to Amazon Local could pose a credible threat to Seamless, et al, especially if the service was added to Amazon Prime. The possibility of including Amazon Local with Prime is likely, especially as Amazon continues to look for more local services to offer, building on their existing offerings of babysitters, installation services, and handymen. With Amazon Fresh, the company made their first foray into providing food for their customers, and Amazon Local delivery is the logical next step. Unlike Seamless and other services which have a flat delivery fee, Amazon Local lets businesses select their own delivery fee, which could prove to be an advantage for participating restaurants trying to decide whether to go with Amazon or a competitor.