Prime's delivery of Whole Foods could make Amazon a leading grocer

Whole Foods shopper
Amazon is changing the grocery game by offering free, two-hour delivery of Whole Foods products. (Whole Foods Market)

Whole Foods announced the start of free two-hour delivery through parent company Amazon's Prime Now. Initially, Prime customers in Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach can shop through Prime Now for a variety of Whole Foods products, from locally sourced items to everyday staples.

Orders can be placed through the website or through the Amazon Prime Now app. 

“We're happy to bring our customers the convenience of free two-hour delivery through Prime Now and access to thousands of natural and organic groceries and locally sourced favorites,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO. “Together, we have already lowered prices on many items, and this offering makes Prime customers’ lives even easier.” 

Alcohol is available for select customers and all shoppers will have their pick of thousands of items. While Prime members get two-hour delivery free, one-hour delivery is available for $7.99 on an order of $35 or more. The delivery window will run from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. 

RELATED: Amazon unveils Prime discounts, Lockers at Whole Foods

Amazon and Whole Foods plan to expand the delivery to other cities in 2018. 

The new delivery options could mean a big spike in the Amazon grocery market. According to a recent study, only 18% of consumers purchased groceries on Amazon in the past year. 

The biggest barriers, according to the same study, was that it was too expensive (40%) and had inconvenient delivery times (23%). So Amazon's goal to cut prices at Whole Foods, in addition to this new free delivery option for Prime members, might address these top concerns and drastically improve on the 18% number in 2018. 

“This announcement further supports the idea that this brick-and-mortar network of Whole Foods stores is not only a great way to deliver fresh food, but by using Prime Now, could also serve as a distribution center for other common Prime Now products," said Greg Ng, VP of digital engagement, PointSource, a Globant company. "One of the most exciting things is the potential of adding the Alexa-enabled appliances to the mix, as well as Amazon Key. The addition of AI into the analyzation of food usage patterns can mean huge things along the supply chain. In theory, fewer products go bad sitting unpurchased on the store shelves or uneaten in your fridge."

This announcement not only changes the shopping landscape for Amazon and Whole Foods customers, but for shopping in general. As Scott Webb, president of Avionos points out, the new option signals how Amazon is always striving to improve the customer experience. As seen with Amazon Go, the marketplace is always looking to streamline the purchasing process. 

"Over the next few months, we can expect to see Amazon employ their test-and-learn philosophy to see how this new addition of services impacts their customers and how they can continue to refine and improve that process," he said. 

Andrew Park, senior director of CXsStrategy at InMoment, agrees that this move will not only light a fire under other retailers but drastically impact the future of consumer expectations. 

"The launch of Whole Foods grocery delivery via Prime means Amazon will have full control over the end-to-end customer experience. This gives them a big leg up over other delivery providers that often experience a disconnect between their services and the source stores," Park said.