Amazon’s mysterious “Project X” appears to be a series of brick-and-mortar drive-up grocery stores — one in Seattle and two in the Bay Area, according to Geekwire and Forbes.
Permit filings uncovered by GeekWire demonstrate plans to renovate a former restaurant in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood into a 9,759-square-foot store designed to serve as a pick-up space for groceries ordered online.
The project follows Amazon's initial incursion into brick and mortar, with a physical bookstore recently opened in Seattle and more planned for San Diego, Portland, OR and New York City.
Amazon's brick-and-mortar play has some observers scratching their heads, considering the e-retailer's $100-billion-dollar e-commerce sales juggernaut. And a move into fresh grocery delivery and pick up is an interesting expansion.
Amazon's grocery sales pale compared to the rest of its assortment — its current share of U.S. grocery sales is less than 1% — according to Forbes, but a new survey from Cowen & Co. found that 18% more people shopped for groceries and other consumable goods on Amazon in the first quarter of the year as compared to the year ago period. In June, Amazon also launched its own private-label food assortment.
The drive-up grocery pick up process was outlined in the Seattle documents found by GeekWire:
When placing an online order, customers will schedule a specific 15-minute to two-hour pick up window. Peak time slots will sell out, which will help manage traffic flow within the customer parking adjacent to the building. When picking up purchased items, customers can either drive into a designated parking area with eight parking stalls where the purchased items will be delivered to their cars or they can walk into the retail area to pick up their items. Customers will also be able to walk into the retail room to place orders on a tablet. Walk in customers will have their products delivered to them in the retail room.
It’s an elaborate system that doesn’t have much in common with Amazon’s highly efficient e-commerce fulfillment, and it doesn’t much resemble grocery shopping today. How it will work given current traffic patterns and grocery shopping habits remains to be seen.