From this week residents of Seattle who log onto Amazon US will be able to order more than just books, DVDs and digital cameras. They'll also find a selection of food from eggs to organic carrots.

The food-delivery programme, known as AmazonFresh , is currently running as a pilot in a single, small part of Seattle and is open to invited customers only. With free delivery for orders of $50 (£25) or more, shoppers can choose from a wide range of goods, including vegetables, meat and diary produce.

Demand driven

Amazon spokesman Craig Berman said that the move into the highly competitive food-delivery market was prompted by customer demand for perishable goods.

He also emphasised the personalised nature of the service, saying, "We have 12 of our own trucks that will deliver the products to customer doorsteps ... we even bring them inside to your kitchen."

Although there are no guarantees that the pilot will be expanded, one thing's for sure. If Amazon wants to press ahead, local grocers will be in for as much of a hard time as independent booksellers face in their trade.