Dark Stores Addressing Massive COVID-19 E-Grocery Demand

| Mike O'Brien

A handful of grocery retailers have flipped some locations into so-called dark stores to handle the crush of online orders, but it remains to be seen how widespread the practice will become or how much the trend will stick after the coronavirus threat dies down. Retailers include Amazon/Whole Foods, Kroger, Giant Eagle and Stop & Shop.

Coronavirus: Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart Walkouts, Workers Sick

| Mike O'Brien

While ecommerce was initially thought to be a boon during the coronavirus crisis, with stores and malls in lockdown, execution is proving to be anything but as a growing chorus of drivers and facility associates complain about the danger of exposure. Workers at Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods staged protest walkouts.

Amazon Counters Walmart with Free Same-Day Grocery Delivery for Prime

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon waited an entire month to swing back at Walmart’s new same-day grocery delivery program, making delivery from Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods free for Prime members by eliminating the $14.99/month charge on $35 and up orders. It’s available in 2,000 cities and towns, mostly through Amazon’s 480 Whole Foods stores.

Wayfair Opens First Physical Store in Natick, MA

| Mike O'Brien

Follow in the footsteps of other digitally native brands that have gone click to brick like Bonobos, Warby Parker, Framebridge and Tuft & Needle, Wayfair this week opened its first physical store in the Natick Mall in Natick, MA, outside its Boston headquarters. This trend shows that brands starting online acknowledge the power of the store.

Amazon Makes 10 Million Items Available for Prime One-Day Delivery

| Mike O'Brien

Amazon just turned up the heat in the three-way battle for dominance atop ecommerce sellers, announcing more than 10 million items eligible for its new one-day delivery standard via Prime. This compares with 220,000 items available for free next-day delivery from Walmart, announced in mid-May, and 35,000 from Target ReStock.

Instacart Pricing Change Leading to Threats of a Shopper Boycott

| Mike O'Brien

Instacart, the same-day grocery delivery company used by many grocers, is dealing with customer ire as freelance shoppers fulfilling the orders are passing up some jobs due to a change in the pricing structures. Also a number of shoppers have taken to Twitter to call for a boycott of the service due to a drop in their wages.

Amazon Expands Free Shipping for the Holidays, Hires More Drivers

| Mike O'Brien

Pouring more water into its moat, Amazon has totally eliminated shipping charges this holiday season, removing the $25 threshold for non-Prime members on items ordered in time for Christmas delivery. Amazon is also hiring and managing thousands of seasonal delivery drivers to handle the holiday crush.