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Prime Now is an on-demand shopping and delivery service provided by Amazon, which is chiefly used by its own Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh subsidiaries. An Amazon Prime subscription includes and is required for access to the Prime Now service, though Prime Now may not be available in all locations where Amazon Prime is offered. Amazon partners with local specialty retailers such as Uwajimaya and Pet Food Express to provide Prime Now as a third-party service platform, in competition with others such as Instacart.
As part of the Prime Now app, users can order groceries from local retailers to be delivered by independent contractors, similar to Instacart. Retailers in the program include local stores and the Sprouts Farmers Market chain. To eliminate packaging waste, items are placed in paper bags for delivery and taken out of insulated bags at the time of delivery to be reused.
In addition to delivery, grocery pickup is also available in some markets.
In December 2014, Prime Now first launched in parts of New York City, by Stephenie Landry, an Amazon vice president who also heads up AmazonFresh and the now defunct Amazon Restaurants. The Prime Now service allows members to have products delivered to them within one hour for a fee of $7.99, or within two hours for no additional fee. As of 2014, 25,000 daily essential products were available through the service.
In February 2015, the service was extended to include all of Manhattan. By mid-2016, it had been expanded in the United States to include parts of Chicago, Miami, Baltimore, Seattle, Dallas, Atlanta, Austin, Nashville, Portland, San Antonio, and Tampa. It has also expanded to certain cities in the United Kingdom, including London, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, and Liverpool. Other cities around the world with Prime Now include Rome, Milan, Munich, Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, Tokyo, Osaka, Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Singapore.
Amazon launched its 2-hour grocery delivery service, Amazon Now, in India in February, 2016 in Bangalore. The service spread to Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad the same year. Available only as an app on Android and iOS devices, the service was re-branded as Prime Now in May, 2018. Apart from tying up with local hypermarkets and supermarkets like Big Bazaar and More, Amazon has also set up its own fulfillment centers in these cities to meet consumer demand.
Amazon Restaurants was an online food ordering service available in 20 metro areas throughout the United States. In January 2018, the service had 7,601 restaurants, which offered delivery through the Prime Now service. In addition to independent restaurants, the service offered delivery from chains such as Red Robin, Applebee's, Olive Garden, and P.F. Chang's. Amazon Restaurants was available on the Prime Now mobile app and on Amazon's website. One-hour delivery was free once users meet a certain spending amount, determined by the restaurant. In November 2018, Amazon announced plans to withdraw from the United Kingdom market, citing an over-saturation of the market by competitors. In June 2019, Amazon shut down the service in remaining markets. It has not withdrawn from the restaurant delivery business entirely: in May 2019 Amazon announced its investment in the UK-based restaurant delivery service Deliveroo.
Most workers who shop for (or "pick") groceries are employees of Amazon or Whole Foods and remain at the facility to prepare orders. To meet the on-demand delivery needs of Prime Now, Amazon launched Amazon Flex, a platform for gig workers. Drivers for the program use a proprietary app to complete deliveries. The contractors do not wear Amazon branded apparel, and deliver using their personal vehicles.
In October 2015, former Flex contractors sued Amazon as they were making under the minimum wage while working out of Amazon facilities and wearing a badge identifying that they were with Amazon.
In October 2016, another group of Amazon Flex contractors sued the company, stating that they should be classified as employees due to factors such as mandatory training sessions and having to follow a route decided by Amazon.
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