Amazon’s quest to dominate fast grocery delivery just picked up speed on Long Island.
With its Prime Now service, the world’s second-largest retailer has expanded its one-hour and free two-hour delivery for Whole Foods Market into parts of Long Island, New York City and Florida, the company announced Tuesday.
Launched in February, Prime Now’s Whole Foods deliveries are available in 24 cities, including Cincinnati, Austin, Dallas and Virginia Beach, and the expansion is being fueled by Amazon’s desire to respond better to customers, said Tanvi Patel, head of business development for Prime Now.
“A lot of folks like to think there is a secret sauce to this but quite frankly, we want to be where our customers are. We have a lot of customers on Long Island,” Patel said.
Seattle-based Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion last year.
The duo is changing the paradigm for shoppers’ expectations, said Jon Hauptman, senior director of Inmar Analytics, a grocery industry analytics firm based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. With Whole Foods, Amazon is "able to maintain their brand throughout the entire transaction, so there are no other additional parties involved," he said.
With Prime Now, Amazon Prime members order goods from Whole Foods at primenow.com. Employees gather the items from stores and contractors deliver them. There are three Whole Foods stores on Long Island — in Jericho, Manhasset and Lake Grove — and two more are planned for Commack and Garden City.
On Long Island, San Francisco-based retail delivery service Instacart has been offering deliveries, including turnaround times as fast as one and two hours, for Whole Foods and several other retailers since August.
But the Instacart delivery service is limited to destinations within a certain distance of the stores.
The Instacart delivery fee is $5.99 for orders over $35, plus a 5 percent service fee for two-hour delivery, spokeswoman Kristen Marion said. For one-hour deliveries, the cost is $7.99 for orders over $35, plus a 5 percent service fee. Or customers may buy an Instacart Express membership, which is $149 a year, for unlimited two-hour deliveries for orders over $35.
With Prime Now, one- and two-hour Whole Foods deliveries will be available in the Long Island area as far west as Hollis Hills in Queens and extend east past Port Jefferson and Brookhaven, Amazon said.
While the two-hour Prime Now delivery is free with an Amazon Prime membership, there is a $7.99 fee on orders of at least $35 scheduled for one-hour delivery. Prime membership costs $119 a year.
Amazon’s latest move comes amid a race by retailers to get merchandise into customers’ hands more quickly, particularly in the grocery wars.
Walmart Supercenters rank first in grocery sales but, according to One Click Retail, an e-commerce information provider, Amazon accounted for the largest share of online grocery sales, 18 percent, in 2017.
Last week, Target announced that it would be rolling out same-day delivery of 55,000 products, including groceries, on Long Island via Shipt, an online delivery company the discount retailer bought for $550 million in 2017.