Amazon UK is set to shake up the grocery e-tail market with the launch of an online food offer.
Amazon is expected to emulate its US grocery offer, comprising more than 45,000 non-perishable items, in this country. A launch date has yet to be decided but industry sources said it is likely to be this year.
In the US, Amazon offers shoppers savings by enabling them to buy in bulk. The e-tailer also offers free delivery to prime customers and tracks routine purchases on a shopping list feature on its site.
Amazon is also testing a perishable food offer, AmazonFresh, in the Seattle area in the US's Northwest and is asking customers to vote on whether the offer should be extended to more locations.
Sources said that they do not expect the fresh food range to be introduced in the UK soon, although this country's size would make it logistically easier to provide a wider fresh food offer.
Nielsen Online analyst Alex Burmaster believed that an Amazon food launch in the UK would be good for competition. "Potentially supermarkets should be nervous as the Amazon name is so well known and it is one of the original, old school online brands," he said.
But Amazon's plans may also face a few obstacles.
Burmaster added: "Its biggest challenge could be to change the customer mindset on a site renowned for selling books and DVDs. It is not a natural progression, but it has been adding to its portfolio over the past few years and becoming more of a one stop shop for customers."
An Amazon spokesman said that he could not comment on future plans. In October the e-tail giant waded into the fast growing online fashion market with a range of more than 20,000 lines from retailers and brands including La Senza, La Redoute and Puma.
As Retail Week went to press Amazon was poised to reveal sales results for the fourth quarter of last year.