Amazon.com Inc. began offering its fastest delivery service — within an hour — to the Twin Cities on Thursday.
The rollout is the latest salvo in the battle between online and brick-and-mortar retailers to bring goods to consumers.
"Sometimes you don't have the time to go to the store or you don't feel like going," said Aaron Toso, an Amazon spokesman.
This is the 14th metropolitan market where the online retailing giant has launched its Prime Now service, which first debuted in New York last December.
Customers of its $99-a-year Prime loyalty program can get one-hour delivery for $7.99 or two-hour delivery for free on a limited number of grocery and other items. A minimum purchase of $20 is required.
To use the new service, customers have to make purchases using the Prime Now shopping app rather than Amazon's website.
Amazon's delivery service comes just a few weeks after Instacart arrived to provide deliveries for Target, Cub Foods and some food co-ops in a portion of the Twin Cities. Other Silicon Valley-rooted delivery services have popped up around town in recent months, such as Postmates, DoorDash and Drizly.
"We're pleased with early guest response to Target's Minneapolis-area pilot with Instacart," Target spokesman Eddie Baeb said. "We believe the service, which doesn't require an annual membership fee, and the ability to have groceries and select other items delivered from Target within an hour or two is a great value proposition."
Target has also tested a $10 same-day delivery service in Minneapolis, Boston and Miami since last year, but the company hasn't promoted or said much about it since it launched. Wal-Mart has tested a similar service called "To Go" in several markets, but its test in Minneapolis was suspended last year.
Amazon is building an 820,000 square-foot fulfillment center in Shakopee and opened a smaller 150,000-square-foot sorting center there two months ago. It launched Sunday delivery in the region after the sorting center opened.
The one-hour delivery service is available for tens of thousands of items, though that's a fraction of the millions of items available on Amazon.com. In addition to groceries, the company offers other household essentials and some gadgets such as FitBits and a selection of TVs.
The Prime Now service is operating from a building Amazon is leasing at 763 Kasota Av. in southeast Minneapolis, city records show. The company hired several dozen people to run the hub, Toso said.
While Amazon often uses the Postal Service and UPS for its regular delivery, it contracts with other third-party delivery service providers for Prime Now that vary by market. The company declined to identify its delivery partner in the Twin Cities.
Products in the Twin Cities eligible for Prime Now include a number of refrigerated and frozen foods such as orange juice and frozen pot stickers. Fresh produce is not available. Amazon sells produce through a different service called AmazonFresh that has rolled out in other cities but not here.
Amazon Prime Now is available in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as in surrounding areas such as Eden Prairie, Apple Valley, Maple Grove, Andover, Woodbury and White Bear Lake. It operates from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
You can check out whether you live in the delivery area here.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113