Amazon.com Inc., the online shopping behemoth, is testing restaurant delivery through its Prime Now network in the company’s headquarters city of Seattle, according to a report.
“The company has been testing the service by allowing its own employees to order meals from restaurants in conjunction with the new Prime Now delivery service in Seattle, according to delivery drivers and others with knowledge of the initiative,” the GeekWire website reported Tuesday.
“Several new Prime Now drivers tell GeekWire they’re the same ones handling restaurant deliveries,” the report said. “A sign observed by GeekWire inside Amazon’s new Prime Now distribution facility, near Amazon’s sprawling headquarters campus north of downtown Seattle, even offered instructions to drivers on how exactly to make restaurant pickups.”
Nation’s Restaurant News emailed inquiries to Amazon’s public relations office, which were not answered by press time.
Delivery has drawn much attention, as restaurant brands seek new avenues to meet consumer demands.
On Tuesday, Atlanta-based Focus Brands Inc. said it was partnering with San Francisco-based Postmates to roll out on-demand delivery for all six of its foodservice chains, including Auntie Anne's, Carvel, Cinnabon, McAlister's Deli, Moe's Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky's.
Postmates, a four-year-old delivery service, has signed such other large chains as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and Starbucks Corp., and offers delivery in less than 60 minutes in designated markets.
In May, Yum! Brands Inc. CEO Greg Creed told analysts that its Taco Bell and KFC brands would test delivery, and Pizza Hut was working on a “next generation” delivery program.
To meet the demand for third-party delivery, companies as varied as DoorDash, Caviar, Groupon to Go, GrubHub and Peach, have created or expanded services to include restaurant meals.
The latest test layers delivery onto the Amazon Prime Now service, which was introduced in December in Manhattan and offers one-hour delivery on thousands of daily essentials through a mobile app.
“Prime Now is powered by Amazon’s growing network of fulfillment centers that utilize high-end technology to speed up order delivery times for customers,” the company said with that launch. “Now, Prime members can get products like paper towels, shampoo, books, toys and batteries delivered right to their door in an hour or less.”
Amazon said the Prime Now app made deliveries available from 6 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week. Two-hour delivery is free and one-hour delivery is available for $7.99.
GeekWire reported that Amazon has been testing Prime Now restaurant deliveries with its own employees.
“When GeekWire spoke with a local eatery that’s participating in Amazon’s delivery experiment, we were told the service is only for Amazon employees right now but may be available more broadly later,” GeekWire reported. “That restaurant said it had only handled one order so far, so its own employees weren’t quite sure how it works.”
Amazon has already initiated the delivery of wine, beer and liquor in Seattle through Prime Now, the website InvestCorrectly noted.
Amazon Prime is an annual membership program priced at $99 a year that offers customers unlimited free two-day shipping on many items as well as access to streaming movies, TV episodes and music.