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Amazon Prime Now 'Free' Two-Hour Delivery Hits San Francisco, San Antonio

Amazon's fastest delivery service is now available in 17 metro markets globally, the majority of which are in the U.S.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

Soon, when you think Amazon Prime, you’ll think same-day delivery. Or faster.

The e-commerce giant said on Thursday that its fastest delivery program — Prime Now — has expanded to San Francisco, San Jose and surrounding Bay Area, Calif., neighborhoods as well as San Antonio, Texas. The service offers two-hour delivery of thousands of goods for no extra charge, and one-hour delivery for a $7.99 fee. It’s only available to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for fast delivery and access to other perks like free movie and music streaming.

“With Prime Now, you can skip a trip to the store and get the items you need delivered right to your door in under an hour,” Stephenie Landry, director of Amazon’s Prime Now service, said in a statement.

The “skip a trip to the store” part is not hyperbole — it’s the point — and it’s going to have huge ramifications for brick-and-mortar retailers. One of the main differentiators brick-and-mortar retailers have maintained over online storefronts is the advantage of immediacy — that is, when you need or want something now, you went to a store and didn’t order it online.

But that is changing — and fast, especially in urban areas where Amazon has been setting up smaller distributor hubs in or adjacent to cities. Prime Now is now operating in 17 metro areas globally, the majority of which are in the U.S. The service includes delivery of a limited catalogue of groceries in some markets, and beer and liquor in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle.

The other day, I asked the head of a luxury retailer how crucial he thought same-day delivery would be to his business given that $2,000 dresses aren’t what you think of when you imagine items someone needs now. “It will be table stakes,” he said. Amazon is a huge reason why.

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