Whole Foods launches one-hour, 30-minute grocery pickup options

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Amazon will be rolling out half-hour and one-hour pickup for groceries at Whole Foods stores. (Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times)

The Amazon-owned organic grocer says it will offer members of the Prime membership program quick delivery options, the latest effort to give consumers an option to grab their groceries without walking the aisles.

Whole Foods Market is launching two quick pickup options, the Amazon-owned organic grocer’s newest services for customers who want to get their hands on produce without walking store aisles.

Members of Amazon’s $119-a-year Prime membership program will be able to order groceries from the Prime Now smartphone app or a web browser and have them delivered to their cars outside of stores in as little as a half hour. One-hour pickup is free for orders of at least $35; half-hour pickup costs $4.99.

As with several of the programs Whole Foods has launched recently, the rollout will come in phases. Pickups at stores will be available beginning this week in Sacramento and Virginia Beach, Va., with other locations to come this year, Amazon said in a news release announcing the program.

American consumers have been slower to embrace online shopping for foodstuffs than other categories of goods. But Amazon and rivals like Walmart, which is rapidly expanding its own pickup and delivery options, are betting that is beginning to change.

In a survey of U.S. consumers by investment bank PiperJaffray earlier this year, 15 percent of respondents said they planned to use a delivery service to buy groceries in 2018, and 10 percent said they would use a pickup option like the one Amazon announced this week (87 percent said they would shop in-store).

Amazon had been experimenting with grocery delivery for more than a decade with mixed results before shelling out $13.5 billion to buy Whole Foods a year ago, including setting up two in-car pickup locations in Seattle.

The company has since made Prime the Whole Foods loyalty program, and turned many stores into depots for Amazon order pickup and grocery delivery.

Matt Day: 206-464-2420 or mday@seattletimes.com.