The world’s largest online retailer is searching for bigger Whole Foods locations in cities that can serve as both grocery stores and urban distribution centers for delivering goods to online shoppers more quickly, said a person briefed on the plans. Amazon is seeking more retail space that can accommodate grocery aisles and storage for the most popular items purchased from Amazon’s website, like consumer electronics, bestselling books and yoga pants.
Whole Foods is also working with Regency Centers Corp., one of its largest landlords, on a project to convert parking areas at existing stores into stalls for Amazon delivery contractors to load up their orders, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the initiative is private. A spokeswoman for Whole Foods declined to comment, and Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment.
John Nahas, vice president of investments for Regency Centers, confirmed that Whole Foods representatives have asked for larger retail spaces and parking stall installations in areas with high concentrations of Amazon Prime subscribers. Regency Centers owns and oversees 28 Whole Foods properties across the U.S. “We continue to see signs of Amazon’s further integration with Whole Foods,” Nahas said.
Amazon’s investment in physical retail is partly designed to lift the online shopping business. The company began rolling out two-hour delivery of groceries from Whole Foods stores in the U.S. last month. It currently maintains separate warehouses for orders of non-grocery items. Combining them could help Amazon cut costs and deliver goods more quickly. The plan would more deeply integrate the business Amazon acquired last year for $13.7bn.
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