In the two months since Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) announced its jaw-dropping $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. (WFM) , there's been plenty of speculation about what types of physical retailers besides grocery stores Amazon will target via bricks-and-mortar initiatives. Between what was announced today and last December's unveiling of the Amazon Go store concept, it's safe to say that convenience stores are high on Amazon's hit list.
As with grocery stores, Amazon is taking aim at an industry that to a large degree has been immune to e-commerce's multi-decade onslaught. And depending on how Amazon wants to proceed, Whole Foods could lend a helping hand.
Amazon just unveiled Instant Pickup, a service that it promises will let Prime members pick up "hundreds of need-it-now items like food, cold drinks, personal care items, technology essentials and Amazon devices" within two minutes of ordering them via the Amazon app. Upon receiving orders, workers at Instant Pickup locations load the items into lockers. Users then pick up the items by scanning a bar code shown on the app at a kiosk.
The first Instant Pickup locations are opening on college campuses in L.A., Berkeley, Atlanta, Columbus and College Park, MD. Additional spots will open by year's end in Chicago and elsewhere. With Amazon able to ship items in bulk to Instant Pickup spots, prices for some items will be lower than what's charged for Amazon orders delivered to homes.
By offering a way to quickly pick up items that consumers want ASAP while providing the convenience of online ordering, Instant Pickup takes aim at convenience store chains that typically sell such items at decent markups. Convenience store chains such as Murphy USA Inc. (MUSA) , Casey's General Stores Inc. (CASY) and TravelCenters of America LLC (TA) are down moderately today, but that might have more to do with a general selloff in retailers following a set of weak earnings reports (Amazon, of course, can still be seen as a culprit if that's the case) than this specific news.
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