Amazon today launched a grocery division offering free delivery on thousands of household goods. The online retailer, which launched in the UK in 1998 as a bookseller, will offer 22,000 top grocery lines including Pampers, Ariel, Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio, Kraft, Schwartz, Kenco, Carte Noir, Walkers and Oreo, and leading pet food products Bakers and Purina One.
As well as selling individual items the Amazon.co.uk Grocery store allows customers to save money by bulk-buying items such as nappies, washing powders, pasta, rice, herbs, cooking oils and spices.
Goods on sale will also include a large selection of international and specialist items including organic, kosher, gluten free, sugar free and vegan ranges. Products offered include Montana hot chocolate, Illy coffee, Clif Bar natural energy bars, and Loacker chocolate and wafers.
Shoppers will be able to use Amazon.co.uk’s delivery options including unlimited free one-day delivery for an annual membership fee of £49 with Amazon Prime, and free super saver delivery where each product automatically qualifies for free delivery within the UK.
Customers will be able to shop via their computers or their smart phones. Alternatively, iPhone and iPod touch users can download the Amazon app.
Grocery orders will be processed in all of Amazon UK’s “fulfilment centres” in Milton Keynes, Swansea, Glenrothes, Gourock, Peterborough and Doncaster.
The move is likely to be regarded as a blow to Ocado, which is aiming to persuade investors to buy its shares for between 200p and 275p, valuing the firm at £1.18bn despite failing to make a profit in its 10-year history.
James Leeson, director of grocery at Amazon.co.uk Ltd, said: “Amazon.co.uk’s aim is to be the place where customers can find and discover any product they want to buy online, and with the introduction of this new store there are thousands of household, niche, ethnic and international grocery items, all available at the click of a button.
“With unlimited virtual shelf space customers can choose from a wide variety of products, all of which benefit from free delivery. We will work tirelessly to increase the selection of grocery items available to be delivered directly to customers’ doors.”
However, the Amazon service does not a “shopping list” facility which allows customers to order the same basic goods every week without typing them in individually, and as yet it is not “scraped” by Mysupermarket.co.uk to compare its prices for a set shopping basket of goods with those of online supermarkets Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury and Ocado.
Amazon, which has 160 million customers worldwide and operates in the US, Canada, Japan, China, France and Germany as well as the UK, has sold groceries in the US since 2006. The move to sell groceries in the UK store follows its entrance in the musical instrument market last week.