Reuters has an article about a rumored expansion of Amazon’s Prime program. Called Amazon Pantry, it would focus more on traditional grocery store dry goods, such as cleaning supplies, canned goods, cereal, and so forth. The idea would be that you would order as many items as could be packed into a certain size of box. As long as it doesn’t exceed a certain weight, Amazon would then ship the box for a small fee. (Apparently the Prime free shipping would not apply in this case.)

Amazon is apparently taking aim directly at the large wholesale clubs such as Sam’s and Costco. The items people buy from those stores, they often buy periodically when they start to run out, but not generally as an urgent need—so if you saw you were running out of toilet paper, rather than plan a trip to Sam’s when you could get around to it, you could order from Amazon and it would arrive at your home in about the same amount of time.

Because many grocery items tend to be significantly bulkier or heavier than the books and tech stuff Amazon tends to sell, the economics of being able to ship it has been a problem—but by requiring multiple items per order and only offering it to the members of the Prime program, who have been shown to order a lot more from Amazon already, they’re already a good chunk of the way to making it feasible.

Such a service would certainly be a great thing for me. I don’t have a car, and where I currently live there is no good public transportation—I have to rely on my brother and sister-in-law to take me shopping when I need to. It would be nice to be able to order snack food and other supplies for delivery.

But this just goes to show, Amazon is serious about selling as many different things to as many different people as it possibly can. Before too long, the wholesale clubs and grocery stores might just find themselves in the publishers’ and bookstores’ shoes.

(Found via Wired.)