Amazon may one-up Google with its own grocery stores

Amazon is reportedly planning to open brick-and-mortar convenience stores where customers can shop for perishables like milk and produce, further expanding its online retail business into the real world.

Sources speaking with The Wall Street Journal point to Amazon building shops for customers to peruse, just as they would any other store, though with a select amount of inventory. 

There will reportedly be a way to order other goods, like peanut butter and cereal, through users' phones or on touch screens placed inside the stores. These items would be delivered the same day, according to the report.

But that's not all for Amazon's grocery games: the firm is also said to be planning designated drive-ins where shoppers can pick up an online order on the way home from work, for example. 

The groceries will be brought to their car, and Amazon, keen to minimize wait time, is reportedly developing license-plate reading tech to identify shoppers' vehicles. 

Putting the 'convenience' in convenience store

The stores, codenamed Project Como, aren't for just anyone to waltz into when they want to restock their fridge, at least not for now. 

Only subscribers of Prime Fresh, Amazon's grocery service that delivers items to customers in a set time period, will get to shop at them. 

Amazon is said to be primed to compete directly with grocery discount stores like Wal-Mart, netting customers who like to pick out their own food and bring groceries home. 

Despite a growing number of food-delivery services, online grocery shopping counts for a measly 2% of US grocery sales, according to data gathered by the Wall Street Journal.  

The sector is expected to grow, however, and Amazon's plans point to bringing some of the traditional grocery shopping experience to its modern-day delivery method, likely to make it even more appealing to customers.

Competitor Google also offers a grocery delivery service with Google Express, and while it has a wide selection of goods from many top retailers, no plans for physical stores are known at this time. 

What's more, Amazon likely won't stop at grocery stores: the report also points to the firm opening up locations where customers can try out its hardware, like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Fire TV

There's no word yet on where Amazon's stores may pop up, but Fresh is currently limited to just over half a dozen cities. Reports point to Amazon opening its first grocery drive-in location in Seattle soon.

What do you think - do Amazon's stores stand a chance? Let us know in the comments below.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.