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Amazon launches fresh grocery delivery service in Japan

The new "Amazon Fresh" website, which provides delivery of fresh food and specialist gourmet items, is seen here. (Photo courtesy of Amazon)

E-commerce colossus Amazon has kicked off a new service in Japan featuring deliveries of fresh food, everyday products and specialist gourmet items, it has been learned.

    The new service, known as "Amazon Fresh," started in Japan on April 21. For the time being, paying members who are based in certain districts in Tokyo will be able to select fresh groceries and daily goods from a list of approximately 100,000 items, and have them delivered.

    The goods can be delivered to the customer's home via a unique logistics network as early as four hours after selecting them. The company hopes to attract more customers through "Amazon Fresh" by combining online supermarket functions with a huge stock of items including gourmet department store goods.

    Up until now, Amazon had used delivery giant Yamato Transport Co. to transport goods purchased online, but a considerable increase in "same-day" and other delivery items caused problems. From now on, Amazon will make use of its own unique logistics network to deliver items to residents in six Tokyo wards including Minato Ward, Chiyoda Ward and Chuo Ward, for an additional fee.

    The new products on offer under "Amazon Fresh" include vegetables and fresh fish, as well as daily items such as washing powder, and gourmet products from 27 specialist stores. These include meat from meat specialist "Ningyocho Imahan" and the popular "Dojima Roll" from Osaka. By paying an annual membership fee of 3,900 yen as a "prime member," customers will be able to receive free delivery if the total order is 6,000 yen or more. Also, following an initial 30-day free trial period, customers will need to pay an extra 500 yen per month.

    With some stock already in place at a warehouse in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Kawasaki, and a robust logistics system on standby, the company is confident that it can provide fresh products to its customers.

    "Amazon Fresh" has already started in some parts of the U.S. and the U.K. Commenting on the service, a company representative said, "Amazon Fresh is highly convenient because the home-delivery aspect means that customers don't need to make numerous visits to stores. Looking ahead, we intend to expand our service based on the customer response."

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