Amazon could open drive-thru stores

Amazon has already launched its fresh delivery service in the UK

Amazon could target the UK next for its drive-thru grocery stores, following reports that the online retail giant planned to open its first drive-thru in Seattle in the US, it has emerged.

Initiatives that Amazon tests out in the US are often rolled out in the UK, according to UK e-commerce delivery specialist ParcelHero, which claimed the retailer’s much anticipated Seattle drive-thru grocery store had applied for final licences ready for opening in the US.

ParcelHero said Brits could also soon be parking up for groceries in London and locations around the UK. It predicted that this could happen as early as this year.

Plans for Amazon’s 900m2 drive-thru facility in Seattle represented a new model of grocery. In practice, shoppers would place their orders online, then drive in for their 15-minute to two-hour pick-up window, and have their groceries delivered straight to their cars, reported ParcelHero.

‘Everyone hates waiting around’

“Whether you are American or British, everyone hates waiting around for grocery deliveries,” said ParcelHero’s head of consumer research David Jinks. “Now you can cruise up and have your car loaded with your week’s order at the time you choose. And you don’t even need to get out of your car!’

Jinks added: “The UK was the first place outside the US for testing when Amazon started its own logistics organisation; when it pioneered one-hour Prime Now deliveries; when it started Amazon Pantry and Amazon one-hour groceries; and it will likely happen with the Amazon drive-thru as well.”

The most likely sites for such drive-thrus in the UK were the major cities of London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow, followed by St Albans and Taunton, said ParcelHero.

“Amazon Fresh first opened in east and central London and these seem prime locations to launch its next big grocery bombshell,” claimed Jinks. “We could see drive-thru grocery stores anywhere from Oxford Street to Stepney Green in the capital.”

One-hour food deliveries

Amazon Prime Now one-hour food deliveries kicked off in Birmingham in September 2015 and this could well point to another location, he added. Amazon’s Prime Now-Morrisons’ tie-up launched in London and Hertfordshire, so Jinks also expected to see a location in Hertfordshire – possibly in St Albans – to be established.

Further north, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool were all areas where Amazon had trialled schemes such as the launch of Prime Now, and with the opening of its new third Doncaster fulfilment centre, nearby Manchester seemed the most likely option, he speculated.

However, one area where a strong need existed for a drive-in service was the west of England, which was less well served by national grocery chain physical stores, Jinks added. He noted that, while Swansea was the nearest Amazon fulfilment centre, Morrisons’ huge distribution centre at Bridgwater in Somerset could provide a drive-thru location further west to a likely location like Taunton.

Speculation about a drive-thru site in Glasgow was linked to the existence of Morrisons’ huge distribution centre just outside Glasgow in Bellshill, which has 7,900m2 of space dedicated to fresh produce. Additionally, he added, Amazon’s own large Dunfermline depot was just 40 miles away, making it the most likely choice.

See ParcelHero’s full Amazon report here.

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