Who’s That Selling Steaks Off A Truck? It’s Amazon

Ever thought of buying meat from a truck in a parking lot? Here’s Donna Brunswick, a technical manager in Atlanta, who drove to a Costco last month to pick up 2 pounds of raw flank steak — not at the wholesale club, but from a truck in the parking lot. While she wouldn’t typically buy meat from a random truck, she says $20 for the slab of beef was a good deal. She also liked the filet mignon she bought in December when it was that day’s offering. The meat didn’t just fall off the back of a random truck. It was sold by Amazon, which already sells just about anything online of course, but now also hawks discounted seafood, Panini presses and more from what it calls the Treasure Truck. It’s a quirky way for the online retailer to connect with shoppers in person, expand its physical presence and promote itself. Amazon has also used the trucks to try to bring people into Whole Foods, the grocery chain it bought last year. The service debuted two years ago and the trucks now roam nearly 40 cities in the United States and England. Maybe soon, coming to a Canadian location? Maybe?

Note: The inspiration, says Treasure Truck Director Margot Johnson, was the ice cream truck, another store on wheels that pops up unexpectedly. While Treasure Truck sales are a tiny piece of the giant online retailer’s business, the value to Amazon may be in the app downloads the trucks generate, their ability to test what products are hot sellers, and the buzz they create, says Aaron Cheris, who heads Bain & Co.’s retail practice. What’s sold on the trucks? The item is a secret until the day the trucks roll out. People who sign up get a morning text announcing the deal of the day. At the circus-like trucks, which light up and blast music, Amazon workers play games with shoppers and help them take selfies. They have custom designs, like a lobster and lighthouse on the Boston truck; cowboy boots in Dallas; and a race car in Indianapolis. A bubble-blowing machine is usually going. The first Treasure Truck hit the streets of Amazon’s Seattle hometown in 2016. It expanded to 25 U.S. cities by last fall, and then a dozen British cities, including London and Manchester, late last year. Amazon won’t say if it plans to expand further. The trucks go out a couple times a week and spend a few hours roving between the parking lots of malls, office complexes or banks. Amazon rents those spaces, but it can also park in front of its own Whole Foods stores.

(Source: Joseph Pisani, AP/Toronto Star; Image: myconnection.com)

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