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An inside look at top retailers and the consumers they covet

AmazonFresh grocery delivery service rolls out to Minneapolis

While the Twin Cities recently lost one of its grocery delivery services in Coborn's, Amazon is sweeping in to offer residents another option.

The online giant has expanded its AmazonFresh program to Minneapolis, in addition to Houston and Phoenix, it announced on Thursday. The service, which is available for an additional $14.99 a month to members of its $119-a-year Prime membership, is now up and running in 18 metro areas around the U.S.

The service promises delivery of tens of thousands of products from meat, seafood, fresh produce and essentials. Delivery within two hours on orders of more than $35 are free. Consumers can pay an extra fee for delivery within one hour.

The Twin Cities has a number of other grocery delivery services. Instacart offers delivery from Cub, Costco, Lunds & Byerlys, Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and some co-ops. And Shipt, a subsidiary of Target, provides delivery from Target, Kowalski's, and Hy-Vee.

Amazon, which has found success selling lots of different things online, has had trouble cracking the online grocery market, leading it to buy Whole Foods a couple years ago. It now also offers delivery from Whole Foods through its Prime Now service. It also offers other groceries from Amazon through Prime Now.

So what's the difference between Prime Now and AmazonFresh when it comes to grocery delivery? It's not exactly clear. Consumer Reports tried to dig into it and came to the conclusion that while AmazonFresh may offer a wider selection of groceries, the extra fees do not necessarily make it worth it.

The AmazonFresh orders will be fulfilled out of the retailer's facility in southeast Minneapolis that also houses its Prime Now service, the company said.

Earlier this month, Coborn's, a St. Cloud-based supermarket chain that got into grocery delivery back in 2008 after purchasing SimonDelivers, discontinued grocery delivery in the Twin Cities. It cited the increased competition in the space and the difficulty to make money doing it.

Hy-Vee data breach may affect customers using its gas pumps, restaurants

Hy-Vee announced Wednesday that it discovered a possible data breach at its payment processing systems at some Hy-Vee fuel pumps, drive-through coffee shops, and restaurants, including Market Grilles, Market Grill Expresses and Hy-Vee-owned Wahlburgers. 

Hy-Vee reps said it's too early in the investigation to know how many consumers may be affected or the dates when the card data may have been breached. After discovering the unauthorized activity. the company notified federal law enforcement and payment card networks. 

"We believe the actions we have taken have stopped the unauthorized activity on our payment systems," the company said in a statement 

The point of sale systems used in Hy-Vee's gas stations, drive-through coffee shops and restaurants are different from the ones used in the main stores. Terminals used at grocery store checkout lanes, pharmacies, customer service counters, wine and spirits stores, floral departments, clinics, and other food service areas, including Aisles Online, are not included.

Customers are advised to check card activity for any unauthorized activity. 

For more information, go to www.hy-vee.com/protectingourcustomers.