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Amazon puts the emphasis on heavy lifting, and membership, in its launch of new grocery delivery service

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The launch of Amazon's long-anticipated UK food delivery service puts an emphasis on making the heavy lifting of grocery buying more convenient. It also introduces innovative services that are likely to provide food for thought among other UK grocers. But the scheme is members-only, as the retailer looks to capture its audience's attention.

The new Amazon Pantry offers 4,000 lines, from brands including Heinz, Kellogg's, Andrex and Pampers, which it says will expand in number in coming months. Delivery is £2.99 for the first 20kg capacity box, and 99p for extra boxes delivered in the same order.

The scheme is designed, says Helen Parthenay, Amazon Pantry manager at Amazon UK , "to take the heavy lifting out of replenishing the often bulky basics and store cupboard essentials that people need every day." She added: "We're always looking to innovate on behalf of our customers and find ways to save them time and money. We think they will love the broad selection, quick delivery and low prices of Amazon Pantry."

Interesting new services include curated lists that help customers find what they need for particular occasions or activities. They include, for example, parties, a new baby, a weekend away or a night in. Shoppers can send Amazon Pantry boxes as gifts to friends and family.

But it's a benefit that's only available to members of Amazon's Prime membership scheme, where services already include free delivery of non-food Amazon purchases, fast one-hour delivery to certain postcodes in London and Birmingham through the expanding Prime Now service that is set to take in new UK cities in months to come, and downloads of films, TV shows, music and books through Prime Instant video.

Membership is an approach to selling that's working well for Amazon, an Elite retailer in Internet Retailing's IRUK Top500 research, and only trader judged Elite for strategy and innovation. Its Prime Day event back in July, also an exclusive members-only event, broke its own Black Friday records. So far Amazon Prime has millions of members in the UK, and tens of millions worldwide. But other retailers will see this as another way that Amazon is ensuring that shoppers only buy from it, to their detriment.

Here's how our sister title eDelivery covered the launch of Prime Now.
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