Amazon launches same-day delivery of food, prescription drug services


As delivery firms struggle to manage overwhelming numbers of parcels, e-commerce giant Amazon Japan G.K. is expanding its same-day Prime Now delivery service to include cooked meals and other items.

Amazon Japan said Tuesday it teamed up with Mitsukoshi’s flagship store in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi district to deliver foods such as deli fare and Japanese wagashi confections sold at the store.

The online retailer also announced it has teamed up with pharmacy chains Cocokara Fine Inc. and Matsumotokiyoshi Holdings Co. to deliver cosmetics and other daily supplies within one hour after an order is placed.

The Prime Now service, launched in November 2015, has been available to Amazon Prime members who pay an annual fee of ¥3,900. Customers may choose items via a smartphone app with a minimum purchase of at least ¥2,500.

The service is currently available to customers in parts of Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka and Hyogo prefectures. The food delivery is only available for customers in eight Tokyo wards and the city of Urayasu in Chiba Prefecture.

Meanwhile, Amazon.co.jp also started selling category No. 1 drugs, which require consultation with a pharmacist before purchase, at its website from Monday.

Before placing orders, customers need to report their symptoms and medical history via a form on Amazon’s site. Items will only be delivered after approval by a pharmacist.

Amazon is also reportedly considering a rollout of same-day delivery service of fresh food including fish and vegetables, although a spokeswoman for Amazon Japan on Wednesday declined to comment on the service. Similar options already exist in other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

Competition over same-day delivery of groceries via online shopping is heating up in Japan. Retailers such as Ito-Yokado Co., Aeon Co., and Seiyu GK. are competing for market share. Foreign services such as UberEats are also vying for customers in the food-delivery fray.

While same-day delivery options may expand the way people shop online, the home delivery industry is seeking ways to mitigate the burden caused the recent huge spike in the number of parcels being transported by understaffed fleets of drivers.

According to transport ministry, a record 3.87 billion parcels were delivered in 2016, up about 32 percent from a decade ago. This is mostly due to the increased popularity of online shopping, a market that expanded about 1.8 times from 2010 to 2015.

To alleviate work overloads on drivers, parcel delivery firm Yamato Transport Corp., the leading deliverer for Amazon, has negotiated with the e-commerce giant on measures to improve the situation, including pulling out of same-day delivery.

For Prime Now service, Amazon has established a delivery channel separate from Yamato that is dedicated to same-day delivery, the Amazon spokeswoman said. She also said that parcels ordered through the service rarely requires the extra burden of re-delivery.

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