Internet commerce has been an irritating thorn in the side of brick-and-mortar retailers everywhere and in every industry. Now, online behemoth Amazon seems to be slowly infiltrating new territory: online grocery retail, complete with same-day delivery.
AmazonFresh debuted in Seattle about six years ago, but this week, it expanded its service to Los Angeles. And not surprisingly, given Amazon’s weed-like growth tendencies, the company hopes to push this model into regions both near and far.
According to Reuters, Amazon plans to launch its online grocery service in the San Francisco Bay Area later this year, and it has 20 other urban areas in its sights for 2014 launches—including some outside of the U.S.—should the L.A. and San Francisco businesses take off.
So, should pet specialty retailers be concerned? There seems to be no need to panic, but, yes, concern is warranted.
AmazonFresh is hardly a pioneer in this segment. Companies such as Fresh Direct in New York, Netgrocer.com in the Northeast and Yummy.com, the online branch of a multi-channel grocer in California, have been on the scene for a while. And according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, AmazonFresh may still be too green and untested to completely crush the local online grocery competition. Yummy.com, for example, will deliver in 30 minutes—something AmazonFresh is not equipped to do.
Still, pet retailers must take note. Scrolling through the available brands of pet supplies available on AmazonFresh reveals many a familiar name in the independent pet specialty channel—brands sold in single-store and small-chain operations. Yummy.com, on the other hand, offers a limited selection of mostly mass and grocery channel brands. Fresh Direct’s assortment is similar. AmazonFresh is breathing down the backs of pet specialty stores, with its broad assortment of brands—and the promise of convenience and perhaps good pricing.
So, while there is no need to shutter the doors and leave town, pet specialty retailers in major urban areas may want to keep an eye for the coming of AmazonFresh, and do what they can to ensure that customers continuing walking through the door.