Next time you’re craving arepas, tequeños, pandebono or queso blanco, there’s a new delivery option.
In its latest move to capture even more of the $800 billion dollar grocery industry, Amazon Prime Now opens a new hub in Wynwood on Wednesday aimed at serving South Florida’s Hispanic audience. Thanks a newly announced partnership with Doral-based El Latino, Amazon will offer foods from every country in South and Central America in its Miami deliveries. It is also expanding into frozen and chilled foods like raspberries, eggs and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
Prime Now is the online retailer’s fastest delivery service, offering Prime subscribers one- or two-hour delivery of tens of thousands of items in its retail inventory, ranging from toothpaste and bottled water to almond milk and board games. The service also offers deliveries from local restaurants. Miami residents can enter their ZIP codes online or in the app to see if delivery is available at their address.
The opening comes hot on the heels of the announcement earlier this month that Amazon had acquired Whole Foods in a $13.7 billion dollar deal. The move left industry analysts — and competitors — closely watching Amazon’s expansion into the grocery business.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Miami Herald
Prime Now has been operating in select ZIP codes in Miami since March 2015. The Wynwood facility increases its operations and includes a walk-in freezer, allowing the company to deliver cold foods nearby.
“Who doesn’t want popsicles and ice cream when it’s 90 degrees outside? We anticipate those being pretty popular items,” said Amazon spokesperson Ana Rigby.
Amazon’s partnership with El Latino is an attempt to build and serve its customer base among Miami residents, where 68 percent of the population is Hispanic or Latino, according to 2016 census data.
The company is competing with other Florida-based supermarkets focused on the Hispanic market like Sedano’s and Publix, which operates seven stores carrying Latin American products under the brand Publix Sabor. Publix also has Latin sections in many of its stores and has offered at-home delivery in parts of Miami since June 2016 through a partnership with San Francisco-based Instacart.
“Miami is one of the most sophisticated markets in the country when it comes to Latin foods,” said Aida Levitan, chairperson of the board of U.S. Century Bank and president of the Levitan Group, a South Florida-based marketing consulting firm. She said she was not familiar with El Latino but believed there was opportunity for improvement in the current delivery options for Latin grocery products.
“There’s really four factors that will play into this: the quality, the pricing, the ease of ordering, and the delivery efficiency,” Levitan said. “All of that will have an influence on whether this succeeds or not.”
When El Latino was created in 2002, it offered four types of cheese. Today it offers more than 120 foods including yogurts and prepared foods from every country in South and Central America, and sells products in 800 South Florida stores.
“We sell nostalgia,” said El Latino founder, Maria Ibañez, who was raised in Colombia and came to the U.S. at age 18. “The consumer has to experience the same flavors they had growing up.”
Amazon approached El Latino in January of this year to discuss a partnership. Ibañez said she had been wanting to expand into online sales for years but found it too expensive on her own.
She said she frequently received emails from customers that said they were looking for specific products from their home country that weren’t in local stores. When contacted by Amazon, she said she agreed “immediately.”
Prime Now was launched in December 2014 in New York City and opened in Miami the following year. The division now serves more than 30 cities. Its Wynwood facility is over 50,000 square feet, making it one of the company’s largest urban facilities.
Customers can place orders through the Prime now app or website. Once an order comes through, associates use a scanner app to locate items in warehouses, then bag them for delivery. Amazon employs independent contractors through its Flex driver program to make the deliveries.
Prime members can get one-hour deliveries for a $7.99 fee; two-hour deliveries are free. An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year.
To promote the new service, Amazon is offering free delivery to three local breweries — Concrete Beach, J Wakefield Brewing, and Wynwood Brewing Company — in Wynwood Wednesday. First-time customers can also get $10 off their first purchase with the code 10primenow.
Miami residents can schedule deliveries between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.