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Amazon Delivering Groceries? It's Coming, Thanks To Sales-Tax Politics

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the bring-me-an-eggplant-and-a-belt-sander dept.

Businesses 214

curtwoodward writes "Amazon has been delivering groceries to people in its hometown of Seattle for a half-dozen years, but the experiment has never spread any further. But this year, rumors about Amazon Fresh expanding to new cities are coming out every month — Reuters just reported that Amazon could start the service in L.A. within a week, and in San Francisco in the coming months. What gives? Why expand now? Look no further than Amazon's long-running battle with state and federal governments over sales tax policy. After more than a decade of resistance, Amazon has spent the last two years cutting deals to collect sales taxes in states all over the country. And it's pushing for a national online sales-tax system, which appears to be within reach. That's the last obstacle to Amazon getting into the grocery-delivery game — a step that should worry not only grocers, but UPS and FedEx, too."

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More regulation = less choices (5, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43918221)

So in other words, Amazon has managed to lobby legislators into having a national internet sales tax which it can fairly easily implement (since it designed it and is a large company after all) in order to screw over both the average Joe AND make the playing field less competitive (the US tax code is far from simple...)

Gee thanks Amazon!

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

GodInHell (258915) | about a year ago | (#43918249)

Nope. That has no relationship to the bill at hand.

Re:More regulation = less choices (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43918263)

Incorrect.
Amazon would do this if there was no sales tax too.

The only reason they did not is that by only enforcing sales tax on business operating in that state they had more to lose than to gain by opening this new line of business.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43918473)

Then why duidn't they? they are just now getting a sales tax. By your 'logic' they would have been doing this a dozen years ago.

Re:More regulation = less choices (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918671)

No

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918777)

Like the insightful sibling post "No," distributing food locally would require Amazon to have a local presence. This would mean they would have to pay the sales tax in that state. This would cost them a LOT of money. Now that they already pay the sales tax, just as locals do, they have nothing to lose by increasing their local presence.

Now, was this actually hard? or ... ?

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about a year ago | (#43919163)

Companies don't pay sales tax.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#43919313)

Companies don't pay sales tax.

Actually they do, and forward the cost to the customer. Ultimately, it is the company that is liable for the sales tax being paid, not the individual.

Re:More regulation = less choices (0)

Tailhook (98486) | about a year ago | (#43918327)

managed to lobby legislators into having a national internet sales tax which it can fairly easily implement

Your public school reading comprehension, that that of 'Insightful' mods, is showing.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

d34thm0nk3y (653414) | about a year ago | (#43918337)

In your first sentence you say the new code is easy to implement. Then you say that is a bad thing because the US tax code is difficult to implement.

Re:More regulation = less choices (4, Interesting)

ron_ivi (607351) | about a year ago | (#43918379)

easy to implement.

Easy for a large multinational with full-time tax attorneys on staff to implement.

Painful for small businesses.

(not too unlike Health Care - which is easy if you have a HR department with nothing better to do; but is really painful if everyone in your company is trying to get work down that's relevant to your main business)

TaxCloud.net (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43918631)

Easy for a large multinational with full-time tax attorneys on staff to implement.

Painful for small businesses.

Part of the deal in this interstate sales tax bill is that participating states will make TaxCloud.net available to online retailers without charge. Integrating TaxCloud.net into a cart is supposed to be no more painful than integrating a payment processor or a shipping rate service.

Re:TaxCloud.net (2)

bongey (974911) | about a year ago | (#43919293)

supposed to be no more painful a payment processor or a shipping rate

Try telling that to anyone that works in tax with multiple states, they wouldn't stop laughing at you.

Re:TaxCloud.net (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43919357)

Try telling that to anyone that works in tax with multiple states, they wouldn't stop laughing at you.

Care to elaborate any? Because theoretically at least, all the complications of what items are taxed at what rate are not in the hands of the retailers; they just integrate with a free service that provides that information. I haven't looked for anything like this, but I haven't heard any actual explanation of why such a system would be complex (e.g. "matching up UPCs is hard" or something like that).

I'm not saying it isn't, just that I'd like to know more.

Re:TaxCloud.net (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#43919393)

So, we're supposed to send the UPCs of everything we buy to the feds in order to calculate the tax?

Re:More regulation = less choices (3, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43918675)

Easy for a large multinational with full-time tax attorneys on staff to implement.
Painful for small businesses.

Isn't it funny how that works?
Same with tax-code -- theoretically, everyone is subject to the same tax codes. However, people with several full-time attorneys on staff seems to do a lot better in minimizing their tax bills.
Coincidence?

Re:More regulation = less choices (4, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43918451)

Its easy to implement for Amazon because Amazon is a large company with a team of lawyers and helped design it. In 2012 Amazon had revenue of about 60 billion or so, spending a couple hundred thousand (or more) on compliance with this proposal is a very small dent. However, the cost of compliance will be felt much more for smaller companies or individuals who sell online and may very well put them out of business. After all if you're selling something as a hobby, its not going to be much fun or profitable if you have to spend hundreds of dollars on either talking to a tax attorney or several man-hours trying to figure out the taxes on your own. Amazon can afford that, they've got the personnel and the spare cash, your "mom and pop" style internet store may not.

Re:More regulation = less choices (2)

hibiki_r (649814) | about a year ago | (#43918351)

It'll be very easy: All you have to do is, instead of opening your own online store, you just list your items in Amazon, and they'll collect the tax for you!

So much money to be made being a middleman.

Amazon requires UPC (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43918619)

Except Amazon doesn't sell anything unless it has a UPC. Handmade? Micro-business? Too bad. Get your own shopping cart and implement TaxCloud.net.

Re:More regulation = less choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918383)

No, in this case, more regulation = more choices. Please read the article in the future.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about a year ago | (#43918525)

Right, because clearly less profit = more incentive to start a business! Clearly more paperwork = more incentive to sell online!

There's a reason why there's lots of small online stores: because you don't have to deal with the headaches of a "traditional" store, you don't have to get a business license, you don't have to fill out paperwork to get a tax ID, etc. I can sell online in minutes instead of weeks. I can spend most of my time making and creating my product rather than worrying about how to run my store. Take away that incentive and many of the small stores will close.

Re:More regulation = less choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918931)

If you're selling goods online now and not paying sales tax on local sales now, you're already breaking the law.

Re:More regulation = less choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918391)

So in other words, Amazon has managed to lobby legislators into having a national internet sales tax which it can fairly easily implement (since it designed it and is a large company after all) in order to screw over both the average Joe AND make the playing field less competitive (the US tax code is far from simple...)
  Gee thanks Amazon!

The easiest way to fuck them over is to just get rid of the State sales tax. Then Amazon gets to pay the internet sales tax and watch the local businesses pay nothing.
Sales Tax is a pile of crap to begin with, luckily I live in a State where we don't have one.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43918425)

The "national internet sales tax" is a stupid and incorrect name for what happened, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the bill.

What they got is for Congress to say (or is it still a bill? I forget) that states can require Internet vendors to collect sales tax for remote sales to those residents. There's no "internet sales tax", it just moves the burden of collecting sales tax on internet purchases from the residents (who will often not pay and is basically unenforcable) to the retailers.

In other words: if states were to get rid of the state sales tax, then Amazon wouldn't be collecting any either.

Re:More regulation = less choices (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year ago | (#43918539)

So before, Amazon was unfairly competing with local brick & mortar stores because they didn't have to pay the same sales tax.

And now you're saying that they're unfairly competing because they do have to pay the same sales tax?

Re:More regulation = less choices (2)

Mitreya (579078) | about a year ago | (#43918759)

So before, Amazon was unfairly competing with local brick & mortar stores because they didn't have to pay the same sales tax.
And now you're saying that they're unfairly competing because they do have to pay the same sales tax?

No, Amazon will unfairly compete with other online stores, because small online stores will not be able to afford a dedicated department (with several attorneys) for the sole purpose of online tax collection.

The playing field with brick&mortar stores may even out a bit as a result, but B&M stores probably still wouldn't have enough in-stock items to remain competitive.

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919147)

Part of the bill enabling online taxation requires some standardization as to what is taxed for the several thousand tax districts (even zip code is not precise enough to determine what applies sometimes) to make this less onerous, but regardless, someone (Income Tax preparers like H&R Block? Business Software folks like Quicken? Tech Companies like IBM or Microsoft? Specialized Startups? Amazon as part of their Cloud Server business? Google glean more data for ads?) will come out with a turn-key tax compliance system for mid-tier retailers - there is some floor below which it doesn't apply (e.g. the family farm that sells a few thousand dollars worth of mail orders).

Re:More regulation = less choices (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | about a year ago | (#43919375)

No. That is absolutely not what this is about. Random cynical statements are not insightful and shouldn't be modded as such.

Live Free or Die (2)

tedgyz (515156) | about a year ago | (#43918225)

No worries here in NH if they ever offer the service here. No sales tax.

Now with regards to our no-motorcycle-helmet law, "Live Free and Die" is a more appropriate slogan.

Re:Live Free or Die (3, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43918287)

Look on the bright side, lots of possible organ donors.

Re:Live Free or Die (4, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43918545)

Look on the bright side, lots of possible organ donors.

And Amazon will deliver them while they're still fresh!

Re:Live Free or Die (1)

game kid (805301) | about a year ago | (#43918687)

When you want your urghhhhhh to smell like eau, call PristiZombie. Powered by Amazon Fresh and LichCo.*

*LichCo not affiliated with the corpse of LILCO [wikipedia.org] .

Good-Bye "No Sales Tax" (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43918403)

No worries here in NH if they ever offer the service here. No sales tax.

I wonder what part of "national sales tax" you missed. Everyone gets to pay sales tax on internet purchases going forward.

Re:Good-Bye "No Sales Tax" (3, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43918477)

wonder what part of "national sales tax" you missed. Everyone gets to pay sales tax on internet purchases going forward.

The part where that didn't happen.

As I just said in another post [slashdot.org] , there's no "internet sales tax", just the ability for states to require internet retailers to collect sales tax on sales to residents. If a state has no sales tax, there will continue to be no sales tax.

(I make no statement on whether the federal bill/law is good or bad, just that the name "internet sales tax" is apparently incredibly misleading.)

Re:Good-Bye "No Sales Tax" (1)

EvanED (569694) | about a year ago | (#43918505)

Sorry, substitute "national sales tax" for "internet sales tax" in my comment.

Re:Good-Bye "No Sales Tax" (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | about a year ago | (#43918533)

You missed it. There's no federal sales tax; it's still just state sales tax on the state you live in. In NH, there's no state sales tax, so we don't have to pay any despite this. What does change is that our NH businesses have to collect tax on behalf of other states when you buy from us online. So when you guys buy stuff online from our businesses, they'll now have to collect sales tax for your state. That's why we fought it, not because consumers would have to pay more, but because our businesses will have to do a lot more work.

Re:Good-Bye "No Sales Tax" (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#43918649)

There is no national sales tax. The push was for a centralized tax system. Alaska, NH, and others will still collect no sales tax. The problem was places like Dallas, where the city spans multiple counties, and the sub-area taxes are precinct-driven (things like DART - public transport). So neighbors with the same ZIP code could have had different tax rates. That level of granularity is not captured by anyone other than specialist tax-tracking firms who exist solely to sell databases of addresses to tax rates to mail-order businesses (of which Internet is a subset). Amazon has been pushing for something that would force mail-order businesses to collect state taxes only. Something that's already captured in everyone's database. That's a national tax policy, but isn't a national tax. You missed the word "policy". You are the only one that missed the point.

"National Sales Tax" is a lie (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about a year ago | (#43919175)

I wonder what part of "national sales tax" you missed. Everyone gets to pay sales tax on internet purchases going forward.

While that's what you'd think from the words "national sales tax", it is completely wrong. "National sales tax" is an inaccurate label (just like the more popular "internet sales tax" for the same measure was.)

The actual measure at issue that has been dishonestly described as a "national sales tax" or "internet sales tax" is federal legislation specifying particular conditions under which states can require out-of-state merchants to collect sales and use tax on sales into the state. It is not, itself, a tax of any kind, and the taxes under it are neither national taxes, nor are they taxes specific to the internet.

Re:Live Free or Die (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43918421)

"Live free and let the tax payers pay for you idiocy" is more like it.

Re:Live Free or Die (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918455)

I think Darwin's law is sufficient for that.

Re:Live Free or Die (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a year ago | (#43919201)

Same here in Texas... Helmets are optional if you have health insurance and are over 21.

Of course, having an accident on a motorcycle and not having a helmet is pretty much an example of Darwin's natural selection process in action... Strike that... RIDING a motorcycle in an urban area in Texas is an example of natural selection processes, folks drive crazy round here....

babby's first post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918257)

oh wait.

Groceries: Amazon's Iceberg? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918265)

Dozens of massive startups have wasted billions trying to do what Amazon plans to.

Re:Groceries: Amazon's Iceberg? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#43918299)

None of them had the resources and the know how.
I already order hard to find grocery items from amazon. Mostly imported products not available in the USA that I enjoyed as a child.

Sock puppets coming back too? (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a year ago | (#43918273)

WebVan lives!

Re:Sock puppets coming back too? (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43918401)

Between Google Shopping Express and Instacart, it's safe to say that Webvan has been fully resurected.

Re:Sock puppets coming back too? (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43918723)

Great! Now all we need is to resurrect Pets.com's festering corpse.

Pets(mart).com (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#43918797)

Now all we need is to resurrect Pets.com's festering corpse.

No need. PetSmart ended up buying what was left of Pets.com.

Re:Sock puppets coming back too? (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#43919409)

Home Grocer was wayyy better.

Good (0)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918329)

Fed Ex, UPS, and most large supermarkets are union operations. Less business for them means less power for union bosses and more power for individual citizens.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918399)

You're pointing your finger at the wrong unions. If I don't like unionized Safeway, I can literally cross the street here and shop at non-union Whole Foods and dozens of little mom-n-pops that probably don't have unions... or even workers with green cards; but that's another discussion.

I can't walk across town and choose another police, firefighter, or education system. Worse yet, working people pay taxes to support the inferior crony service that PEUs provide. They can crow all they want about protecting the middle class; but they are picking the middle-class pockets.

Re:Good (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43918745)

The unions built the middle class. Without the unions, this country would still be an assbackwards 3rd world hellhole.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918429)

w/o the long, courageous and bloody struggle of Labor? You and your young children would all be covered in coal dust right _now_ and all waiting for that 14 hour day of mining to be done....

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918543)

Tell it to someone from 50 years ago. We don't have to keep paying today's union abusers to thank people who died 50 or 75 years ago.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918673)

by rejecting Labor, you doom your children to slave wages and hideous working conditions and a 3rd world economy for the US.

Re:Good (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918773)

... said the union guy from the year 1937.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43918771)

You do if you want to keep your grand children out of the coal mine. The plutocrats who abuse their employees are still in power and work day and night to undo the protections that the unions have put in place for American workers. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

Re:Good (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918803)

Do these plutocrats all wear monocles in this story? Do they cross the Atlantic on their steam ships?

Re:Good (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about a year ago | (#43918787)

If what is happening in the EU right now is any indication even the US will get a push towards getting more Chinese like working conditions sooner rather than later.

Re:Good (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#43919423)

What? Like only 6 weeks of vacation a year? Or only 3 months notice from your employer when they lay you off with guaranteed time off for interviews. 35-hour workweeks? Siesta rooms for lunchtime? Yeah, I've heard working in the EU really sucks.

Re:Good (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43918457)

Does Amazon have a delevery company? Everythuing I order is deleived by USPS,UPS, or Fed Ex. and one itme by a Samoan wearing a tu-tu.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919095)

Are you using a chisel and tablet? Four typos in two lines. Gazooks, man!

Re:Good (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918469)

weekends? 8 hour days? The Union gave you those, you Randroid ignoramus. Those were radical concepts until organized labor ended the total dehumanization and near slave conditions of the majority of American workers.

Re:Good (1, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918607)

Tell it to someone from 50 years ago. Today's union bosses have been trading off work their great grandfathers did for long enough. What do they have to offer anyone in the future besides cronyism, coercion, and corruption? Expensive and inconvenient groceries?

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918785)

Just to add to that, the aforementioned benefits come without paying any dues. If conditions at store X are somehow unfair, they should be made fair at all stores, not just the ones with unions. That implies that the proper advocate for labor is a party, seating legislators to pass laws applied equally to everybody. The unions argue that such-n-such is unfair, the see to it that "fairness" is applied unequally.

Re:Good (0)

chaim79 (898507) | about a year ago | (#43918903)

And the buggy whip gave us a method for motivating our transportation, however it is no longer needed in the vast majority of modern life, much like unions.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919291)

The 8 hour day was pushed durring the industrial revolution because people stop working effectively after 8 hours. Henry Ford didn't want to pay someone the same wage for hours 9-14 that he did for hours 1-8 because they weren't as productive. So "no more after 8 hours" became the 8 hour day. It wasn't the people's choice, it was the owners.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918507)

Fed Ex drivers aren't unionized. Employees of the largest US grocer, Walmart, aren't union either.

Bad (1)

Tavor (845700) | about a year ago | (#43918511)

Okay, lets take your example of Supermarkets. Most of them are union. The only major non-union Supermarket in my area is Wal-Mart. Working for a Union outfit, I do have to pay more in union dues. But I make whole hell of a lot more working for a union place than I ever would at Wal-Mart. Everyone I know at Wal Mart is on the edge, barely making ends meet, and on assistance programs, such as Food Stamps, TANF, etc. (California already recognizes the problem here, drafting a new law where by places where workers are encouraged to use Food Stamps to make up their shortfall in pay would be fined $6000. That number is based strictly off of Wal Mart, where each employee on Food Stamps costs CA $5,990 per employee.)

Now tell me again how less regulation and less power to the Unions is a good thing again? We've been there before. Individual citizens are powerless against Grover Cleveland and the U.S. Marshals.

Re:Bad (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918713)

The only major non-union Supermarket in my area is Wal-Mart. Working for a Union outfit, I do have to pay more in union dues. But I make whole hell of a lot more working for a union place than I ever would at Wal-Mart.

Why should anyone care? Do you care about us? What does the union do for anyone besides the union?

Everyone I know at Wal Mart is on the edge, barely making ends meet, and on assistance programs, such as Food Stamps, TANF, etc.

Does the union support politicians who want to shrink these programs? No. They do not. They support politicians who want to expand these programs. Unions are part of the problem. For this reason alone, I hope Amazon and Wal Mart and all the non-union alternatives displace the union supermarkets.

Re:Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918807)

Why should anyone care? Do you care about us? What does the union do for anyone besides the union?

Well yeah, the purpose of the union is to ensure better working conditions for their members. Just like the purpose of a for-profit corporation is to make a profit. But most unions want better working conditions for all workers, hence the various labor laws that we have thanks to them.

Does the union support politicians who want to shrink these programs? No. They do not. They support politicians who want to expand these programs. Unions are part of the problem. For this reason alone, I hope Amazon and Wal Mart and all the non-union alternatives displace the union supermarkets.

In what way would shrinking those programs be good for unions? Or for low-wage workers, or for America as a whole? What's your replacement for food stamps, starvation?

Re:Good (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43918547)

Fed Ex, UPS, and most large supermarkets are union operations. Less business for them means less power for union bosses and more power for individual citizens.

Right, because nothing says "power for individual citizens" like sweatshops and 80 hour workweeks.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918717)

He means our corporate citizens you insensitive clod.

Re:Good (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43918737)

Wal Mart employees all work 80-hour weeks, I guess.

Re:Good (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43918887)

Many Wal Mart employees make less than $10 an hour. They're on strike [thenation.com] for a reason.

Re:Good (1)

Kohath (38547) | about a year ago | (#43919075)

Unemployment is very high and it has been for about 4 years. There's a glut of idle labor. Why would you pay person X $11/hour for work persons X1-X200 will gladly do for $9.75/hour?

Re:Good (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43919269)

The rate of unemployment has nothing to do with whether employees should be able to eat, make rent, and be able to retire some day.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918909)

Well, Walmart has various forced employees to work off the clock (resulting in class-action lawsuits, several of which have been settled or lost by Walmart), kept workers as part-time to avoid providing them with health insurance, and in Mexico payed them, in part, in Walmart vouchers, until the Supreme Court there put a stop to that.

Re:Good (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#43918821)

That is because the Randroids all see themselves as John Galt like innovators who will obviously ascend to the monied class, instead of the sheep led before the slaughter that they are.

Re:Good (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about a year ago | (#43918919)

Less with FedEx, their drivers are independent contractors.

Fed Ex is non union and most drivers are not even (3, Informative)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43919069)

Fed Ex is non union and most drivers are not even employees.

Kindle (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about a year ago | (#43918387)

Can I have them download breakfast to my Kindle?

Re:Kindle (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43918563)

Can I have them download breakfast to my Kindle?

No, you'll be printing your breakfast on your 3D+flavor printer.

This is still good news for customers. (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about a year ago | (#43918501)

I can't count the number of times Amazon Fresh has freed up my wife and I to spend time together. I recognize there is no way for small grocery stores to compete, but it's hard to sympathize with difficulties the big grocery chains have with competing. Failure to recognize the need consumers have for this service is on Kroger's head, not Amazon's and not the US government's.

Re:This is still good news for customers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918795)

I can't count the number of times Amazon Fresh has freed up my wife and I to spend time together.

You will sing a different tune when your local grocery chains go out of business. Amazon may start raising prices then...

Walmart already serves as a prime source of groceries for many people in certain areas. That is scary.

Re:This is still good news for customers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919241)

Why is that scary? WalMart is all about cost cutting and keeping prices low. If they raised prices after taking control of the market, other chains would come back. Grocery stores probably only trail gas stations (on gas) for tight margins. Sure the meat won't match a specialty butcher shop nor the produce match that of a local farmer's market, but it is comparable to the other options around here for quality. Selection is probably only about 2/3 of what is available at the nicer groceries, but that's because most of the WalMart customer base is drawn from the lower end stores that lack that same selection rather than those who patronize Whole Foods and such.

Re:This is still good news for customers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43919301)

as a UPS driver delivering groceries from amazon, I can't tell you the number of housewives I've laid. I'm like the milkman 2.0. Seriously, at least once a week.

The Amazon way (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918515)

1) The groceries will go through the patented one-lick only cart,

2) You can buy used groceries for less than the new kind,

3) You will get recommendations about what other groceries were purchased by people who bought the same items as you,

4) After a certain amount of time these groceries will stop working/disappear from the fridge,

5) You can eat them only if you cook them with Amazon Kindle'd fire,

6) If you store them Amazon Cloud, you can eat them from anywhere in the world ...

Oh, great. (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#43918575)

There goes one more reason to get out of the house.

Maybe answering the door should count...

To Quote Q from ST:TNG (1)

Guano_Jim (157555) | about a year ago | (#43918579)

"Oh, very clever, Worf. Eat any good books lately?"

Amazon, why? (1)

timeOday (582209) | about a year ago | (#43918601)

Well, I guess they know what they're getting into:

In June 2008, CNET named Webvan the largest dot-com flop in history, placing it above Pets.com and eight other sites on its list.[1] It is now owned and operated by Amazon.com.

(quoting Wikipedia)

Remember WebVan?

How is this anything other than Amazon moving into a business that Walmart could have done at any time but evidently passed on?

I predict Amazon will end up delivering groceries mainly places where other companies already do (i.e. where there is a market for it) but it won't spread much further.

Distribution (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | about a year ago | (#43918647)

I'm wondering, though. For package goods it's fine. For perishables like meat, dairy, refrigerated goods and so on, it's a bit more complicated. The supermarkets (Vons in my area) already have the distribution network and storage in place in every store they have. All they need to do for delivery is pick the stuff off the shelves (or out of the back room before it goes on the shelves), put it in a truck and go. It'll be interesting to see how Amazon deals with keeping perishable goods in stock close enough to the destination to make it through delivery intact.

Re:Distribution (1)

Shados (741919) | about a year ago | (#43918677)

Its the whole point. Amazon would centralize its operations to avoid taxes. Now, its customers are getting hit by sale taxes ANYWAY. So they're just putting distribution centers all over the place, since they're not gaining anything by keeping them in the middle of nowhere.

With that, comes same day shipping as well as localized warehouses. Those two together is the only thing you need to effectively be able to do groceries.

Be Careful What You Wish For (3, Interesting)

sehlat (180760) | about a year ago | (#43918661)

The brick-and-mortar brigade has been bitching for years about the supposed "unfairness" of "they don't pay sales taxes but we do." They finally browbeat Congress into doing something.

Amazon's argument was about the burden of having to keep track of over seven thousand districts (I looked this number up.), having to update them the moment things change, and the legal penalties for any failure to keep track of changes. So they asked for, and got, a national single-tax regime, which, presumably, any business selling online can keep track of and meet, including the brick-and-mortarsaurs.

And if this is a disaster for the mortarsaurs, they will have only themselves to blame for the new K-T boundary.

This will be Bezos' "war torn country" quagmire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43918769)

Insert name of war torn country.

If Amazon scales up nationwide, they will declare victory and sell the business to a competitor (who's actually in the food business) within five years. "We learned lots of useful stuff...."

Doesn't Amazon already sell groceries? (1)

compro01 (777531) | about a year ago | (#43918901)

It appears that Amazon already has a groceries section [amazon.com] . This appears to be them just expanding it into a less-esoteric selection.

It's about robots, not sales taxes. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43919047)

This has nothing to do with sales taxes. That's a few percent. It's all about efficient warehouse and distribution operations. Doing that wrong can double operating costs.

WebVan [webvan.com] was a popular service during the dot-com boom. They just had an operating cost problem. They had about 3% market share in 30 cities, instead of 30% market share in 3 cities. So their order processing and delivery costs were too high.

One of WebVan's former executives realized that order processing had to be much more automated for this concept to work. So he founded Kiva Robotics. [kivasystems.com] Upwards of 15% of online orders are handled by Kiva robots. If you've ordered from a major online retailer, (Acumen Brands, Drugstore.com, Gap, Toys-R-Us, Walgreens...) a Kiva robot probably handled the order.

Last year, Amazon bought Kiva Robotics. The whole company. Then they started building warehouses near major US cities and talking about same-day delivery. Those warehouses will have a lot of Kiva robots and not too many humans.

While some grocery chains like Safeway do delivery, they're not very good at it. They're picking from store shelves. So they don't know, when the order is taken, if the item is in stock. Safeway tends to deliver with some items missing. Automated warehousing operations know what they have in stock when the system takes the order.

It's going to be like Webvan again. But this time, it will be profitable. The retailers who see this coming are very afraid.

Re:It's about robots, not sales taxes. (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year ago | (#43919099)

This has nothing to do with sales taxes. That's a few percent.

Uh, you are aware that Amazon's profit margins are typically only 'a few percent'?

The brick and mortar stores who complained that Amazon was unfairly competing with them by not charging sales tax are now going to find themselves having to compete with Amazon when they have local operations and same-day delivery. Good luck with that.

peapod has been doing this for years and with (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#43919055)

peapod has been doing this for years and with groceries things have to be out of local depots

I dont care who wrecks the grocery curve. (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about a year ago | (#43919371)

They have it coming. Any way I can poke my grocery store in the eye I will take it. I will be more than happy order grocerys on line if it is the same as everything else. Like HDMI 69.99 at store 3.99 on line. beans 99 to 1.49 at store 39 cents on line. I have some cans I dont want I can sell them too. I hope it stuffs the store price down their throat. Everything in every grocery store is over priced by at least 50 percent.
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