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Amazon opens Seattle grocery pickup locations to Prime members

Amazon unveiled two grocery pickup spots in Seattle, including this one at 5100 – 15th Avenue Northwest in Ballard. This is the latest move in the e-commerce giant’s emerging bid to take on the supermarket industry. (Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times)

Amazon.com’s two grocery pickup locations in Seattle have emerged out of “beta” mode — and now can be used by all members of the company’s Prime loyalty program.

The concept, dubbed AmazonFresh Pickup, allows shoppers to buy items online and choose a time slot to collect them at a drive-in Amazon facility either in Ballard or Sodo, where the grocery bags will be brought directly to their car.

Until Thursday only Amazon employees participating in a test program could access these locations. Their opening to the public means that the early part of the experiment must have worked; now Amazon gets to test it on a much broader scale.

AmazonFresh Pickup is only one of various approaches by the world’s largest e-commerce player to crack the gigantic market for groceries.

It’s been trying to do that for a decade with AmazonFresh, a grocery delivery service that costs $14.99 a month, but it’s failed to make significant inroads against grocery rivals such as Wal-Mart and Costco Wholesale.

Now this bricks-and-mortar foray is aimed at making people who prefer to buy groceries at a physical store more familiar with the idea of Amazon as a purveyor of fresh foods, and perhaps nudge them to do more online shopping.

Seattle is the backdrop of some of this grocery experimentation. Besides AmazonFresh Pickup, the company operates a cashierless convenience store dubbed Amazon Go. That store was expected to open to the general public in early 2017, but so far it remains accessible only to Amazonians. The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was still working out problems with the technology.

The AmazonFresh Pickup facilities are on First Ave South, in the same complex as Starbucks’ headquarters in Sodo, and at 5100 15th Ave. Northwest in Ballard.