Amazon.com Inc. launched restaurant delivery service in Seattle on Tuesday, the company’s first foray into the increasingly crowded market for consumers who want food on demand.
The service, which has been in test for several months, is available for Amazon Prime Now members, which offers same-day, one-hour delivery for thousands of items sold through Amazon.com. Prime Now is one of the perks available in certain cities to those who pay $99 annually for Amazon Prime.
Using the Prime Now mobile app, customers in some Seattle zip codes can order from restaurants like Wild Ginger, Cactus, Skillet, Marination Station and others. Users can view menus through the app, place orders and pay using their Amazon accounts. The app also allows for tipping of the delivery driver.
Guests can also track the delivery in real time. Amazon says food can be delivered within an hour or less.
“Prime members can now enjoy food from the Seattle restaurants they love without having to drive all over the city. For many of these restaurants, this is the first time they are offering delivery, and we are delighted they have chosen to work with us,” Gus Lopez, general manager of a new division known as Amazon Restaurants, said in a statement.
Through the service, delivery is free for a limited time, but Amazon officials did not say how long that will last. The company said there is no mark-up of restaurant pricing or hidden fees. Prime Now members typically pay $7.99 for one-hour delivery for other retail items.
Lopez said Amazon will leverage its own fleet of drivers, dedicating a team for restaurant delivery. “We are taking our operational expertise that we’ve developed at our more than 100 fulfillment centers around the globe,” he said.
GeekWire also said Amazon will leverage its own fleet of drivers for the restaurant delivery service.
That access to drivers is a key differentiator between Amazon’s service and those offered by third-party tech providers like Postmates, DoorDash and Tapingo, which rely on independent contractors as drivers in the style of ride-sharing brands Uber and Lyft.
Lopez declined to say whether the service will be expanded to other cities, though a report in GeekWire indicated expansion is planned.
Seattle customers will also be able to order beer and wine through Prime Now, according to GeekWire. But those would be a separate transaction, so they wouldn’t necessarily arrive at the same time as the meal.