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Whole Foods, Amazon add grocery pickup at Palm Beach Outlets store

Whole Foods, Amazon add grocery pickup at Palm Beach Outlets store

In another sign that Florida’s supermarket wars are heating up, Whole Foods Market on Wednesday began offering curbside pickup of groceries at stores in West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Tampa.

With the latest announcement, Whole Foods, a unit of e-commerce giant Amazon, offers grocery pickup in more than a dozen U.S. cities. The supermarket chain launched the service in a handful of cities in August.

To use the service, a shopper must be a member of Amazon Prime. With the Prime Now app, customers can choose free pickup in as little as an hour on orders of $35. If you’re really in a hurry, you can schedule pickup in 30 minutes, although you’ll pay $4.99 for the convenience.

Customers park in a spot designated for grocery pickup, and a worker will emerge to load groceries into the car within minutes. Customers also can use the Prime Now app to tell Whole Foods they’re about to arrive, and Amazon says the groceries will be ready right away.

Pickup from Whole Foods Market is available daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

It’s just the latest move by Amazon and Whole Foods to compensate for their comparatively small number of stores. Whole Foods has just four supermarkets in Palm Beach County, while Publix has more than 75 locations and has been opening new stores aggressively.

Amazon and Whole Foods in August began offering deliveries of groceries to homes in some parts of Palm Beach County. Supermarket analysts say the new offerings represent Amazon’s efforts to make deeper inroads into the massive — if low-margin — grocery business.

The strategy represents a different way to compete for shoppers’ money.

Winn-Dixie, once a major player, has faded fast, but Wal-Mart, Aldi and Trader Joe’s have been adding stores in Palm Beach County.

Jeff Ostrowski, Palm Beach Post.