CINCINNATI -- Amazon Inc. is expanding its Prime Now offerings in Cincinnati and Columbus to include beer and wine, intensifying competition between the online retail giant and the Cincinnati-based Kroger Co.
“We are excited to continue expanding our product offerings and we know customers will love getting wine and beer delivered right to their door in one hour or less,” said Stephenie Landry, vice president of Prime Now worldwide in a press release.
Amazon is offering two-hour free delivery of “hundreds of alcohol-related products,” including craft beers from Rhinegeist, MadTree Brewing and Great Lakes Brewing Company. Wine offerings include Barefoot Pinot Grigio at $8.99 for a 750 ml bottle and a three-liter Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon for $27.99. The service requires Amazon Prime membership, which costs $99 annually. One-hour delivery is available for $7.99.
Amazon launched its Prime Now service in Cincinnati last April, offering an inventory of about 10,000 products from a fulfillment center in Winton Hills.
The company has been making steady investments in the Cincinnati region in recent years.
Its February announcement of a $1.5 billion cargo hub in at the CVG Airport will enhance its ability to expand service offering even further here.
But Amazon was not the hands-down winner last July, when WCPO tested six companies offering home delivery of groceries in the Tri-State. And Brandy Goss, owner of Dashing Delivery on Spring Grove Ave., isn’t worried about Amazon’s Prime Now expansion.
“They don’t know Cincinnati like I know it,” said Goss. “I feel like I have more of an inside track.”
Dashing Delivery was the only home-delivery service to stock beer and wine as a regular offering. Grocery Runners, which picks up online orders at local grocery stores and brings them to shoppers’ homes for a fee, also offers beer and wine but doesn’t stock the items.
Kroger has relied on its ClickList online ordering service as its main competitive answer to Amazon and other home-delivery options. It now has more than two dozen locations in Cincinnati where shoppers can order a basket of goods online and pick them up without leaving their car.
MadTree is happy to have another retail channel selling its products, but it isn't sure what impact it will have on sales.
“It's kind of a new reality,” said Mike Stuart, director of people and social strategy for MadTree. "It’s likely here to stay."
Amazon is so far offering MadTree's four year-round brands - but no seasonal products - through Prime Now at the same price as local grocery stores. Stuart expects brick and mortar retailers will continue to benefit from having a broader selection and staffers with product knowledge, helping consumers find the right beer for them.
"It’d be great if they could start moving some volume for us," he said. "But if not we have a number of great retailers working with us too."
One day into the new relationship, Stuart has already sampled the service, ordering three six-packs of MadTree that arrived within two hours.
"When it got here, it was cold," he added.
WCPO reached out to Amazon Wednesday to ask about the risk of underage customers using the new service to illegally obtain alcohol, but the company said it had processes in place to prevent that from happening.
"Prime Now take multiple pre-cautions to ensure that alcohol purchases are made and delivered legally," said company spokesperson Amanda Ip. "Our associates who deliver alcohol receive special training including a multi-step process to check customer IDs when the product is delivered."