Amazon plans to bring its new-concept grocery store to Long Island, as the e-commerce giant continues courting shoppers who aren’t drawn to its Whole Foods chain.
An Amazon Fresh is slated for Plainview, according to emails an Amazon representative sent to the town of Oyster Bay in relation to an application for a building permit.
The store would occupy 33,342 square feet, or 60%, of the 55,162-square-foot space in Manetto Hill Plaza that a Fairway Market vacated in July, according to documents the shopping center’s owner, Kimco Realty Corp., submitted to the town of Oyster Bay in February for its building permit to make interior alterations.
Amazon Fresh started as a grocery delivery service but was expanded to include in-store grocery shopping last year.
"It’s just sort of this hybrid thing … they do sell groceries directly through Amazon that is for delivery. They’ve been doing that for a couple of years at least. And now they are actually opening up grocery stores under the same name," said Dan Romanoff, an equity analyst who covers Amazon for Morningstar Research Services in Chicago.
Amazon Fresh is set up to offer "a seamless grocery shopping experience," according to Amazon’s website.
"We’ve taken our decades of operations experience to deliver consistently low prices for all and free, same-day delivery for Prime members," the website says.
Amazon, which is based in Seattle, declined to comment on its Long Island plans.
Kimco, which is based in New Hyde Park, declined to comment.
The real estate firm’s website shows that a "tenant" will be occupying 33,342 square feet of space in Manetto Hill Plaza.
Adding grocery choices
The first Amazon Fresh store opened in Woodland Hills, California, in August. There are now 12 — eight in California and four in Illinois, according to Amazon’s website.
Amazon has been rolling out various grocery shopping choices for a few years, in an attempt to offer more variety for shoppers – and compete with Walmart and Target in the grocery arena, Romanoff said.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, selling everything from caskets to cookies, but Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Inc. is the world’s largest retailer overall and it sells the most groceries in the United States.
In 2018, Amazon rolled out Amazon Go, a chain of convenience stores with fresh produce and meat but without cashiers or checkout lines. The stores’ "Just Walk Out Technology" automatically detects when shoppers, with smart phones and the Amazon Go app, take products from the shelves, and then it charges their accounts. There are now 26 Amazon Go stores, including eight in New York City.
Then last year, two Amazon Go Grocery locations, which are larger convenience stores, opened in Seattle and Redmond, Washington.
Then there is Whole Foods Market, which Amazon bought for $13.7 billion in 2017. Whole Foods, a high-end grocer known for its focus on organic and natural foods, has 523 stores in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom, including five on Long Island. Amazon plans to open a sixth Whole Foods on Long Island in the fall, in Massapequa.
But Whole Foods is not everyone’s cup of tea, which is where Amazon Fresh comes in, grocery experts said.
The new stores "are positioned more like traditional supermarkets with a wider assortment of brands than Whole Foods ... Amazon Fresh stores should provide lower-price options," said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Intelligence, a retail industry analytics company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Skip the checkout line
Amazon Fresh also has a feature that allows customers to skip the checkout line.
Using Amazon Dash Cart, which is a "smart shopping cart," customers can sign into the cart using the Amazon app, place their bags in the cart and leave the store using the Dash Cart lane.
"When you exit through the store’s Amazon Dash Cart lane, sensors automatically identify the cart, and your payment is processed using the credit card on your Amazon account," according to Amazon’s website.
Amazon is opening Amazon Fresh stores in higher-income suburban areas and they are smaller than traditional grocery stores – 35,000 to 40,000 square feet compared to 50,000 to 55,000 square feet, so the selection will be smaller than that of traditional grocery stores, said Bill Bishop, co-founder of Brick Meets Click, a Barrington, Illinois-based consulting firm that focuses on the online grocery industry.
"These [Amazon Fresh] stores are built for younger shoppers … the younger shopper has a different set of preferences when they’re shopping. Younger people prefer to shop faster. They’ve got other things to do," Bishop said.
More than food
Amazon is extending its reach on Long Island beyond grocery stores.
The company is in the midst of an ambitious expansion plan to speed package delivery on Long Island.
Amazon plans to add five warehouses, totaling more than 800,000 square feet, to its existing three warehouses to make "last-mile" deliveries.
It has submitted plans to local governments for locations in Carle Place, Holbrook, Melville, Syosset and Westhampton Beach.
The warehouses would operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Brad Griggs, a senior economic development manager at the company.
Independent transportation companies pick up packages from the warehouses and deliver them to customers’ doorsteps.
Amazon already operates two warehouses in Bethpage and one in the Shirley-East Yaphank area.
With James T. Madore