Amazon opened what it calls its first “permanent online-only” Whole Foods Market store in Brooklyn Tuesday.
It’s arguably less of a store and more of a warehouse, since it won’t be accessible to customers to drop in for a bag of quinoa or pizza from a hot bar, even if they order in advance. The new facility, which from Amazon-provided pictures has more items in manufacturers’ cases and more exposed infrastructure than usually swanky Whole Foods outlets, is intended to serve the company’s growing grocery delivery business.
Amazon says its online sales tripled year-over-year in the second quarter of this year, but planning for the new outlet in Brooklyn’s Industry City area began more than a year ago, before the coronavirus was on anyone’s mind.
The company has previously run some temporary delivery-only storefronts, sometimes referred to as “dark stores,” CNBC reports. Amazon also boosted the number of stores with online pickup available this year as customers have sought to socially distance amid the coronavirus pandemic, RetailWire reported in April.
Other retailers have also experimented in recent years with ways to use existing store sites and neighborhood locations to serve new demand for online ordering for pickup and delivery. Amazon rival Walmart has introduced pickup towers and lockers for ease of access to online orders, as well as launching pickup-only locations. Other stores have looked into small, heavily automated fulfillment centers sometimes colocated with existing stores.