- The debut Amazon Fresh supermarket, in Woodland Hills, California, is now open to the general public, the company announced in a blog post Thursday. The store had been open only to invited customers beginning Aug. 27.
- The new supermarket, which will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., is offering opening-day deals like $2.69 for a 12-pack of Coca-Cola Cans, boxes of Cheerios for $1.99, strip steak for $7.69 per pound and Atlantic salmon fillets for $5.99, according to the store's circular.
- The Woodland Hills location is just the first of many anticipated Amazon Fresh locations to come, and marks the e-commerce giant’s entrance into the conventional grocery space. The store comes equipped with Alexa features to help customers manage shopping lists and the option to use the Amazon Dash Cart, which identifies items in customers’ carts to eliminate the need to check out at the end of their shopping trip.
Amazon Fresh threw open its doors to the public on Thursday and reinforced its focus on pricing and a wide-ranging assortment to draw in shoppers. In addition to deals on boxed goods and fresh meat, the store is touting low prices on bananas ($0.15), freshly baked bread ($0.89), freshly made pizza slices ($1.79) and rotisserie chickens ($4.97).
Whether the low prices which Amazon is pushing will make an actual difference in customers’ receipt totals remains to be seen. After acquiring Whole Foods Market in 2017, Amazon instituted three highly-publicized rounds of price cuts on key items. But the grocers’ average overall prices hardly budged, according to a year-long study by Gordon Haskett Research, and Whole Foods' store sales stabilized but failed to turn a consistent profit. Research shows the specialty grocer's store traffic growth during the pandemic is among the lowest in the industry.
The new Amazon Fresh location, which served as a dark store to fulfill online grocery orders in the early months of the novel coronavirus pandemic, represents a move by the e-commerce retailer toward a more conventional style of grocery experience and is equipped with an on-site culinary team to prepare freshly made options including made-to-order pizzas, sushi, and hot sandwiches. Shoppers can get online orders delivered from the store or opt to pick them up from the parking lot.
The store's traditional brick-and-mortar format also allows consumers to have an AI-driven shopping experience. Amazon's Dash Cart, which identifies items as they are placed in it and charges them to the consumer’s Amazon account, is on offer at the Woodland Hills store alongside traditional shopping carts. Amazon Echo Show devices are also placed throughout the store, letting customers ask where to find particular items.
The contactless options on offer are typical of Amazon, whose Amazon Go and Go Grocery formats already offer AI-optimized shopping experiences. However, the technology used in Go Grocery locations as well as the new Amazon Fresh store can have its kinks, as similar types of produce can make it difficult for algorithms to differentiate, and frozen food aisles can obscure camera vision. The invite-only period for the Woodland Hills location provided the store a couple of weeks to adapt to unforeseen issues with the novel technology.
The Fresh store offers a wider range of products and brands than Go and Go Grocery, like Fresh and Cursive, new Amazon-exclusive brands. Amazon is reportedly also looking to open a host of other Amazon Fresh locations in areas including Irvine and North Hollywood, California; Schaumburg, Naperville, and Oak Lawn, Illinois; the Philadelphia region; Seattle’s Central District; and a suburb of Washington, D.C.