Amazon.com turns grocer

<p>Amazon.com has launched a pilot programme to sell fresh food like eggs, vegetables and fish, reports Reuters. The online bookseller started the programme, AmazonFresh, in Mercer Island, Seattle, Washington, &quot;by invitation only&quot; on Wednesday (1st August).</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s up and running,&quot; spokesman Craig Berman told the news agency. &quot;People are ordering and trucks are delivering.&quot; He would not speculate, however, on when the programme would be expanded. &quot;When we feel we are ready to add neighborhoods and add more customers to the invite list, and we can provide those customers with a great experience then we will do so,&quot; he said.</p><p>Some of the items available on AmazonFresh include organic carrots with leafy tops for $1.79 and a 5 ounce steak for $1.99. Non-perishable items, already sold on Amazon.com, will also be available through AmazonFresh. Berman said repeated requests from customers for perishable groceries prompted the pilot program. </p><p>The article points out that online grocery business is a difficult one, given the perishability of fresh food and the grocery industry&#39;s razor-thin profit margins. During the height of the dot-com frenzy, companies like WebVan, HomeGrocer, ShopLink and Streamline opened their virtual doors only to shut down or be acquired by larger firms due to a public yet unsold on the idea of buying perishables online. If AmazonFresh expands, it would be competing with online grocers Peapod.com and regional services such as FreshDirect.com or YourGrocer.com in the New York area.</p>