Monday 18 December 2017

Amazon tests takeaway food delivery service

"I just get all weak-kneed around entrepreneurs. I Just love it," says Jeff Bezos. AFP/Getty Images

Sophie Curtis

Amazon has quietly started experimenting with delivery of hot meals, in the latest addition to its Prime Now delivery service.

The company has been testing the service by allowing its own employees to order meals from restaurants in Seattle, GeekWire reports, citing delivery drivers and others with knowledge of the initiative.

These are the same drivers who handle Amazon's one-hour Prime Now delivery service. Instructions on how to make restaurant pickups have reportedly been posted up inside Amazon's distribution facility.

The world’s biggest online retailer has been steadily expanding Prime Now since it launched the service in New York last year. It started rolling out in the UK in June, charging customers £6.99 for one-hour delivery.

Only this week, Amazon announced that it would start delivering wine, beer and spirits to US customers for the first time, as part of Prime Now. UK customers can already receive alcohol via Prime Now.

The company also already operates a grocery delivery service in the US called Amazon Fresh, and was recently rumoured to be planning drive-through grocery stores.

Seattle, which is where Amazon is headquartered, has become the testbed for many of these new services.

However, there is already a plethora of startups offering restaurant delivery in Seattle, from Peach to Grubhub, and Deliveroo offers a similar service in the UK.

Meanwhile, Uber recently expanded its food delivery service, UberEATS, to New York and Chicago, promising to get restaurant food delivered within just 10 minutes.

Amazon recently overtook Walmart to become the largest US retailer by market capitalisation, after revenues soared 19.9pc in the second quarter to $23.19bn, beating Wall Street expectations of $22.39bn.

Sales in the US, Amazon’s biggest market, rose 25.5pc compared with the same period last year, to $13.8bn on strong demand for electronics and general merchandise.

The company is also exploring the possibility of launching a drone delivery service known as "Prime Air", which would use small unmanned aircraft to get purchases into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less.

Robert Goodwill, transport minister, said in March that he had met with the Amazon about being given permission to test the drone service in the UK, because regulations in the US are too restrictive.

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