Amazon recently announced a decision to shut down its Amazon Restaurants division in the U.S. and the U.K. over the next couple of months. Amazon had been expanding their restaurant delivery program since beginning in Seattle in 2015, and currently provides deliveries to customers in more than 20 cities in the U.S. (a similar service was shut down in London last year).
Amazon has made no secret of the fact that they are willing to fail (and fail fast) when appropriate. However, this particular decision comes as a surprise, given Amazon’s emphasis on “last mile” delivery logistics. In the opinion of this writer, this decision likely reflects the inherent difficulties in restaurant delivery. Amazon has proven a master at delivering packages to customers on a timely basis, and is proving very innovative in that regard (such as drones and direct access to homes whenever the owners are absent). However, restaurant deliveries are much trickier than packages deliveries – timing and the physical abuse to the food and beverages themselves are paramount. Apparently, Amazon is not planning to control all aspects of our delivery infrastructure, at least for the time being.