At first glance nothing could be more different than a traditional neighborhood market in Madrid and the silicon-driven business of logistics firm Amazon.
But at 1.19am on Wednesday morning the two worlds collided when an Amazon customer used the site to place an order for fresh fish with a stall in the Spanish capital’s La Paz market.
One fishmonger has hooked up speakers to his cellphone so he can take Amazon orders – even when his hands are dirty
The order was sent using Amazon’s new Prime Now express service, which promises delivery within as little as an hour within Madrid – for a fee. It also marked a milestone for Amazon: its deal with La Paz is the first such tie-in with a local market in the world. It also comes just days after the logistics giant announced similar deals with the Dia chain of supermarkets and wine merchants Lavinia.
“People who work late and live a long way from the market now have access to fresh, high-quality products,” said Antonio Cattarossi, the man responsible for Amazon’s Prime Now service.
“We chose Madrid because of its amazing culinary tradition,” he added.
Market customers seem keen on the idea. “I like the service because I don’t have to use my free time to come shopping,” said La Paz regular Begoña Sánchez.
Stallholders, meanwhile, have been preparing for months – a process that has included photographing their produce for the Amazon site and writing up meticulous descriptions.
There have been teething troubles too, with the stallholders in market, which was founded in 1882, having to adapt to the dictates of new technology. One fishmonger has hooked up speakers to his mobile phone so that he can hear and process the orders as they come in, even when his hands are dirty, while most have set the text size on the phones to large so that they can clearly make out the customer requests.
Traditional market hours – which include a very quiet start between the hours of 8am and 10am – have also taken a back seat with merchants now fielding orders from the early morning on. But complaints are thin on the ground among vendors. “I never thought we would have something like this at the market. I have been selling products online but this is fantastic,” said Sonia Flores who runs the La Alacena gourmet stall.
We chose Madrid for this market service because of its amazing culinary tradition Antonio Cattarossi, Manager of Amazon Prime Now
Amazon recently celebrated five years in Spain with a ceremony which saw three long-term customers rewarded with a voucher for €500.
In just half a decade in the country, the firm has seen rapid growth: from 2.3 million products available on the opening day of trading on September 14, 2014, to the 157 million products currently up for grabs, and from a mere 40 employees to the current crop of 1,372 staff.
That growth can be measured in purely physical terms too. Floor space at the warehouse in San Fernando de Henares outside Madrid has increased from 28,000 square meters to 77,000 square meters.
Rapid expansion is also expected in the next five years, with the firm planning to open a new logistics center near Barcelona’s El Prat airport toward the end of 2017: a 60,000-square meter facility that should generate some 1,500 jobs over three years.
English version by George Mills.