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Amazon's grocery pickup spots are now open for business

Two AmazonFresh Pickup locations in Seattle are open to the public -- if you're an Amazon Prime customer.


A look at a new AmazonFresh Pickup spot.


Amazon's newest attempt to break into groceries is here.

The company on Thursday opened its first two AmazonFresh Pickup locations in Seattle. The buy-online, curbside-pickup stores were announced in late March, but have been in a testing phase until now, with only Amazon employees able to shop at the locations.

The pickup spots, in the SoDo and Ballard neighborhoods, are free to use and include no minimum order limits, but they're only available for Amazon Prime members. Customers can order online or on mobile and choose from thousands of items, including meat, dairy, and household cleaners. Amazon workers will then bag and bring over items to customers' cars in as little as 15 minutes after an order is placed.

Amazon has been working for a decade to grow in groceries, in hopes of getting a piece of the enormous $800 billion annual US grocery market. So far, it hasn't been successful, with FTI Consulting saying in late 2015 that online grocery sales haven't budged from nearly zero percent for years.

AmazonFresh up until now has been a grocery delivery service, much like Peapod and FreshDirect. AmazonFresh Pickup helps the e-commerce giant create a familiar buy-online, pickup-in-store concept that Walmart, Kroger and others have already been offering, and it may help Amazon finally persuade more people to buy their produce through the web.

The pickup locations are part of Amazon's multifaceted experiments in retail stores, with the company working on its cashier-less convenience store called Amazon Go, which remains in a testing phase. Amazon has also opened seven bookstores, with its first opening in New York City this week, and it has expanded into mall kiosks and college campus pickup locations.