Amazon is adding another perk to entice Twin Cities residents to join its Prime membership program: free restaurant delivery within an hour.
It's the latest addition to a growing portfolio of services that Amazon has rolled out in the region in the last year as the online behemoth looks to persuade consumers to shop from its website and app and not anywhere else.
Amazon's restaurant delivery, a service it first rolled out last year in its hometown of Seattle, is now up and running in about a dozen U.S. cities such as Portland, Ore., Los Angeles, Chicago and New York.
In Minneapolis, where the service launched Wednesday, Amazon has partnered with dozens of local eateries including Hell's Kitchen, Keys Cafe and Bakery, the Lowry, Common Roots Cafe, Gandhi Mahal, Broders' Pasta Bar, Manny's Tortas, French Meadow and select Leeann Chin locations.
It is only available to members of its $99-a-year Prime program and in certain Minneapolis neighborhoods such as Calhoun-Isles, Uptown, Linden Hills and Dinkytown. But the company is planning to expand the delivery region in the coming weeks. Prime members can enter their ZIP codes in the app to see if their home is in the delivery area.
In launching restaurant delivery, Amazon is entering what has become an increasingly crowded space in the past year or so in the Twin Cities. A number of Silicon Valley-based start-ups such as Postmates and DoorDash have launched restaurant delivery services here, competing with other local options such as Bite Squad.
But Amazon is hoping to stand out by offering no delivery fees to members of its Prime program, which offers members around the U.S. free two-day shipping on products sold at Amazon.com and access to various streaming content.
In the Twin Cities, Amazon has been quickly improving its game as it has laid down infrastructure in the region. In the past year, it has opened a handful of centers, including a large fulfillment center in Shakopee, which started operations last month, as well as a smaller sorting center in the same southern suburb.
Amazon began collecting sales taxes in Minnesota in October 2014.
Last year, it rolled out Sunday delivery in the Twin Cities and also launched its fastest delivery service — within two hours or less — to Prime members through the Prime Now app on a select number of items. And last month, it added alcohol delivery from Surdyk's Liquor & Cheese Shop to its roster of options.
The restaurant delivery service can be accessed through Amazon's Prime Now app or from primenow.com where customers can browse menus, place orders and track the status of their delivery. Amazon promises that there are no menu markups or hidden service fees.