|Park Slope, Brooklyn is known as one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in New York City. Meanwhile, Manhattan is arguably its best-known borough. Now, these high-end, influential areas will serve as the site of two of Amazon’s newest business ventures, marking a significant change in the company’s typical operations.
On October 17, the online shopping giant opened its newest location of AmazonFresh, a point-and-click grocery operation, in Park Slope. Previously available only in Seattle, the service will offer more than 500,000 items for delivery to AmazonPrime members in the Brooklyn neighborhood. The company seems to be attempting to draw customers away from the wide array of grocery stores and food shops in the area, including a newly opened Whole Foods, with its convenience: AmazonFresh guarantees same-day delivery for all orders placed before 10 a.m., while orders placed by 10 p.m. will receive an early morning delivery the following day. The operation reportedly plans to extend into the rest of Brooklyn and eventually other locations throughout the United States after establishing itself in Park Slope.
Similarly, Amazon is also planning to open its first offline store in Manhattan in time for the holiday season, having recently purchased a building at 7 W. 34th St., across from the Empire State Building. The store will have limited inventory, most likely including company products like Kindle tablets and the Fire smartphone, and will also offer same-day delivery for some products in the New York-area. However, the store’s primary function will add on to the company’s existing function as an online retailer: customers will be able to order products on their website and pick them up at the store on the same day. And as with AmazonFresh, the operation could likely expand to other cities if it is successful.
These new projects are both a revolutionary change to Amazon’s business model and also a sign of the increasing popularity of online shopping. While some have speculated that Amazon is worried about competing with brick-and-mortar companies, studies seem to indicate that Amazon is attempting to build onto an increasingly prevalent trend: online shopping is incredibly popular, with approximately 64% of smartphone owners using their device to shop online. Adding a physical location that specializes in same-day service makes Amazon seem even more convenient, while focusing on groceries could expand its already broad customer base, increasing their sales. If these new services are successful, Amazon could become bigger than ever before, a fact that rationalizes a comment Google chairman Eric Schmidt made recently, calling the company their biggest rival.
So far, Amazon has denied purchasing the building in Manhattan. However, AmazonFresh is currently available for all Park Slope residents with an AmazonPrime account. For a limited time, the service is free to all members, but will reportedly increase to $299 a year once the project is established. If you’re too busy to pick up milk and eggs, this might be the perfect time to see how Amazon fares in the real world…or at least Park Slope.