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Amazon Takes on Perishables
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Is there anything Amazon can’t do? Or at least try in very thought-out, organized way. If any brand is going to make the leap from an online packaged goods delivery brand to one that now crosses over to the grocery-store industry, it’s going to be Amazon. It’s scary, though — as a customer, at least. Grocery is a whole different world than the model that Amazon originally created. Or maybe that’s not exactly true. Amazon provides quick delivery, a large selection of product, and sought-after prices, all with the ease of online ordering. So maybe a move to grocery is just the next hurdle Amazon is going to break down and make work for its customers. It’s no easy feat, but if anyone can figure it out, it’s probably Amazon.

It’s called AmazonFresh — simple and quite telling. Because customers’ first question is going to be “Is it really fresh product?” Well, with a name like that, Amazon is answering that hesitation right from the start. The program is being piloted in Seattle, where Amazon has access to fresh and local and relationships to make this idea work. The current model for Amazon, of course, uses a supply chain to deliver products to customers in a timely matter at a price they can’t find elsewhere. With grocery, customers are going to want that same idea, but they also want the produce to be fresh, the seafood to be right out of the water, and the variety that they can find down the block. Otherwise it’s not worth it. If bananas are bruised and strawberries are smushed, Amazon Fresh does not live up to its promise.

AmazonFresh, however, allows the brand to highlight local producers and provide them access to customers. In Seattle this is the ability to get donuts from FROST and meats from Interbay Food Company. So it works for Seattle, but thinking long-term, will Amazon be able to provide local for every region it enters? Or maybe the plan is to start with certain markets that focus on fresh and Amazon simply becomes the connection between customers and product. Maybe Amazon is filling a need that these local brands have and answering a customer and company issue by providing the technology to make it work.

And of course any time Amazon does something, it’s not average. It’s better than average. The Seattle pilot already has the famous Amazon rating system, but with a twist. As an example, the produce is rated by Amazon’s produce specialists. They’ll let customers know before they order that this basil meets our highest standards or maybe this week it’s just average. Honesty is good; customers like that. Another benefit is the mobile app that lets customers place orders from their smartphone. Nice job, Amazon, don’t leave any door un-opened with this pilot.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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