Two weeks back, rumors broke that Amazon was getting into the restaurant delivery business, and yesterday the tech giant announced that local Amazon Prime Now customers could start ordering from restaurants downtown and in Belltown, Queen Anne, South Lake Union, and Capitol Hill.
There's plenty of competition in Seattle restaurant delivery from Bite Squad, GrubHub, Munchery, Postmates, Instacart, Caviar, Lish, Peach, Groupon (Groupon-to-go), and Yelp (Eat 24), but the thinking is that the market for delivered meals can only grow, and it seems a natural expansion for Amazon.
For some brief background, the Seattle-based tech behemoth launched its Prime Now app last December in New York, which promises to deliver virtually anything to your door, from books to beer, within a couple of hours. (Amazon Prime, its $99 a year, two-day free delivery program, has been around for a few years.)
Now that it has honed its expertise in the cutthroat world of logistics with Prime Now for nine months, Amazon is inviting customers in Seattle to use the app to access the menus of participating restaurants. We tried it for Belltown and found 53 restaurants offering everything from sushi to burgers. Some are small (like Cafe Yumm), some well-established (like Wild Ginger, Skillet and Cactus). You have to download the app to see the full offerings.
Participating restaurants all have dedicated Kindles installed in their kitchens to take the orders, and Amazon will use its swarm of Prime Now drivers to pick them up. The minimum order is $20, charged to the customer's existing account.
For now, delivery is free, though drivers will accept tips, and the website says the fee-less service is just "for a limited time." Amazon won't reveal how many drivers are in its fleet, however, nor will it share details of its revenue-sharing with the restaurants. The company plans to add more zip codes and more restaurants "every day," according to Amazon Restaurants manager Gus Lopez, eventually expanding beyond Seattle.
In the meantime, Google is partnering with Whole Foods and Costco to launch a grocery delivery service. The first market is San Francisco.