Whole Foods Market has started offering free one-hour grocery pickup from any of its U.S. stores for members of Amazon’s Prime customer benefits program.
Parent company Amazon said Wednesday that Whole Foods pickup service carries no charge for Prime customers placing orders of $35 or more, including fresh produce, meat and seafood plus everyday grocery and household staples, locally sourced products and holiday favorites. The Austin, Texas-based specialty grocer operates 487 U.S. stores.
Use of online grocery pickup has escalated since the COVID-19 outbreak, but the service stands to become a regular solution for many customers, Amazon noted. The company said more than 40% of Whole Foods monthly pickup orders come from customers trying the service for the first time and, according to recent findings from Global Data Research, nearly 68% of consumers plan to keep using curbside pickup post-pandemic.
To place Whole Foods orders for free pickup, Prime members open the Amazon mobile app or go online to Amazon.com, click the Whole Foods Market tab, choose a pickup store and start shopping. When ready to checkout, they select a one-hour pickup window and then complete their order. In the designated time frame, customers head to the store and check in via the Amazon app to let the store know they’re on their way. Most customers who check in using the Amazon app before arriving at the store wait just one minute to receive their orders after arriving, the company said.
Grocery pickup in an hour is free for Amazon Prime members on orders of at least $35 but carries a $4.99 fee for orders to be ready in 30 minutes.
Amazon has accelerated the rollout of curbside pickup at Whole Foods only recently, driven by customer demand amid the pandemic.
The service launched in August 2018 in 14 metropolitan markets and then was expanded to 30 markets in April 2019. However, in a blog post on its coronavirus response measures this past April, Amazon reported that grocery pickup was extended from about 80 Whole Foods stores to more than 150 over several weeks, and more locations would be adding the service.
Seattle-based Amazon previously had focused more expanding grocery delivery service. Currently, Prime members in more than 2,000 cities and towns can receive unlimited free, two-hour delivery on more than 170,000 items from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods stores on orders of $35 or more. Besides groceries, members can order toys, gifts, household products and everyday essentials and electronics, among other items.
Last October, Amazon made free grocery delivery part of the Prime benefits package by dropping the fee for its AmazonFresh perishables delivery service for Prime members placing orders of $35 or more. Amazon’s Prime Now (including Whole Foods) and Prime Pantry programs had already offered members free delivery on orders of at least $35.