Amazon.com, Inc. Will Succeed Where Webvan Failed

The high-profile Internet grocer couldn't achieve scale or make online grocery shopping easy. Amazon.com, Inc. has already solved both problems.

Tim Beyers
Tim Beyers
Apr 7, 2014 at 8:30PM
Technology and Telecom

Amazon Fresh could get a big boost from Dash. Sources: KQED/Amazon.com.

Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) is making it easier to order groceries through a small stick of a device called the Dash. In the following video, Fool contributor Tim Beyers says it may be the first sign of national expansion for the e-tailer's grocery delivery efforts.

What's the big deal? Dash makes ordering groceries simple in two ways. Either scan the barcode of items that you'd like order more of, or speak your order into a mic on the device. Amazon Fresh then processes your list and ships your groceries. Supermarkets might be hard pressed to compete with a process so ruthlessly simple and efficient, Tim says. Certainly Webvan didn't enjoy these sorts of advantages in the lead-up to its multibillion-dollar bankruptcy in 2001.

For investors, the Dash comes as Amazon is making significant investments in newer areas of its business. Take the Fire set-top box, which extends the e-tailer's Prime Instant Video service to any TV while also adding mobile games.

A similar expansion of Amazon Fresh wouldn't be surprising, though disrupting incumbents might be more difficult than it seems. Kroger (NYSE:KR) recently reported better-than-expected financial results while scoring high on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Meanwhile, Safeway (UNKNOWN:SWY.DL) is pursuing a private-equity buyout that could reshape its business.

Now it's your turn to weigh in. Can you see yourself using the Dash as an alternative to going to the supermarket? Would you like to see Amazon Fresh in your city? Please watch the video to get the full story, and then leave a comment to let us know what you think, including whether you would buy, sell, or short Amazon stock at current prices.