Amazon Starts Free Whole Foods Delivery in Four Cities

Amazon has announced a brand new perk for its Prime members in certain neighborhoods in Austin, Dallas, Virginia Beach, and Cincinnati. Starting on Thursday, February 8, the company will be offering free two hour delivery from Whole Foods stores. Any Prime members in these areas can order their choice of fresh seafood, meat, fruits, vegetables and flowers, along with most other items carried in the stores.

To begin taking advantage of the program, Prime members in these locations can visit their Amazon account pages on the web or in the Prime Now app to see what goods are available for two hour delivery.

Amazon purchased Whole Foods stores in June for almost 14 billion dollars, and since then has announced a range of services connecting the two companies. By purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon made put itself onto the top five list of grocery retailers, behind other retailers such as Walmart, Costco and Kroger.

The first thing Amazon did after purchasing the stores was to lower prices for some items in most of the store locations, and make Whole Food’s 365 brand available for purchase on Amazon.

The launch of the Whole Foods delivery service is on a smaller scale than other Amazon program roll-outs. However, the service cannot make use of the streamlined Amazon fulfillment centers staffed by Amazon employees. Instead, the company needs to send out individuals to each Whole Foods store to actually pick the items off the shelves and pack them in temperature controlled containers.

Amazon has said they are not simply using existing Whole Foods employees to carry out the service, but did not provide additional information on what other methods would be used.

Once the items are packed, they are passed off to Amazon Flex drivers for delivery. The Amazon Flex program uses a Uber-like system where drivers use there own cars along with Amazon’s routing program to make deliveries. These drivers already deliver items from Prime Now, Amazon, Amazon Restaurants, and AmazonFresh.

For Prime members in the launch areas, delivery will be available only during normal operating hours of their local Whole Foods stores. Eventually, Amazon plans to expand the Whole Foods delivery service to a larger section of the country.