At Amazon’s first Amazon Fresh grocery store in Los Angeles.
Amazon is opening its first grocery stores on the east coast, the company confirmed Thursday, as the latest sign of its efforts to improve traditional supermarkets.
The company plans to open two grocery stores. One is in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC, and another in the city of Franconia in northern Virginia, not far from Amazon’s second headquarters, called HQ2, in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington.
The stores in DC and Northern Virginia may just be the first of several Fresh stores to land on the east coast. More grocery stores appear to be planned for the suburbs of Warrington, Pennsylvania, and Chevy Chase, Maryland, in Philadelphia, according to job postings on the Amazon website.
It’s unclear whether the stores will mirror the format of the Fresh grocery chain recently launched by Amazon or when the stores will open. Representatives from Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last September, Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store in the Woodland Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. Since then, it has opened a handful of other locations across Southern California and in several suburbs of Chicago.
Amazon’s Fresh stores look like a traditional supermarket, but they also have some high-tech details like smart dash carts that shoppers can use to skip the checkout and voice-activated Echo Show displays. However, unlike Whole Foods owned by Amazon, Fresh stores are designed to appeal to a wider range of shoppers by offering products at lower prices than the upscale grocer, as well as traditional staples like Coca-Cola drinks and Kellogg cereal. There is also a dedicated store area where shoppers can pick up and drop off Prime packages.
Amazon now has 11 fresh stores in operation and more may be on the way. Last month, Bloomberg identified at least 28 more Fresh locations that are in the works. According to Bloomberg, the company is also testing its “Just Walk Out” cash less technology at a Fresh store in Illinois.
Since acquiring Whole Foods for $ 13.7 billion in 2017, Amazon has expanded its ambitions to break up the $ 900 billion U.S. food industry, creating fear at Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons in the process. In addition to the Fresh Stores, Amazon operates a number of cash-free Go Convenience and Go Grocery stores.
With its Fresh stores, Amazon appears to be “looking for a middle-income customer who may already be shopping at discounters and conventional grocers,” said Morgan Stanley analysts in a statement on Tuesday. Morgan Stanley said the Fresh stores “don’t offer anything too special” compared to typical supermarkets, but their real value may lie as “fulfillment hubs” close to consumers.
“With consumers increasingly demanding same-day fulfillment (both for delivery and in-store pickup), fresh stores could fill a previously missing void in the AMZN food fulfillment process while maintaining the AMZN im Build up food retailing, “write the analysts.