These days, convenience is king. But no matter how easily we can binge-watch shows or how many apps we have to order take-out, dog-walking, and ride-shares, we still have to grocery shop. Virtually every household does it, and most Americans and Europeans hit the shelves to pick up perishables (like produce or meat) more than once per week.
Profit margins at traditional grocery stores are razor thin. Given that it costs to have someone pick, pack, and deliver groceries, we’ve seen a number of online grocery delivery businesses in the age of the Internet fail. HomeGrocer, Webvan, and others seemed brilliant as the 2000s dawned, but they failed to maintain a customer base, much less expand to the vast expanse of cities across the U.S.
This blog will explore the differences between Prime Pantry, Amazon Fresh, and other Amazon food and perishable delivery and in-store options, as of 2020. Because of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and other developments (such as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods) we’ve also seen some updates and changes to certain services and offerings.
Does Amazon deliver groceries? What is Amazon Fresh?
Amazon, trailblazer in nearly every product category, began preheating the oven on food and grocery long ago. In September 2003, Amazon launched the Gourmet store online, selling chocolates, smoked salmon, gift baskets, and the like.
Amazon Fresh quietly began grocery delivery nearly a decade ago. Rolling out services very gradually, and almost in a stop-start way, testing markets and metropolitan areas. Amazon often partnered with local speciality stores. Fresh is currently available in some U.S. states, London, Tokyo, Berlin (including Potsdam), Hamburg and Munich. Amazon also uses the Fresh service to deliver from local restaurants in some areas. But the service is not widespread.
Amazon Fresh offers delivery and pickup in Seattle, where it has taken root most successfully, with pickup depots and vans in nearly every zip code. The Fresh add-on to a Prime account is $14.99 per month, which makes grocery pickup or delivery over $50 free for members. In the United Kingdom, London has been a successful marketplace for Fresh since 2016, costing an additional £6.99 a month on top of Prime.
Amazon Fresh offers everything you’d find at a regular grocery store, including perishables, frozen foods and fresh, local and speciality offerings. With Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market in 2017, the grocer has become a big draw of the Amazon Fresh service. Customers can shop Whole Foods on the Amazon site easily. Whole Foods has also become a staple featured in Amazon events like Prime Day, as Amazon continues to hone in on the partnership.
Visit Amazon Fresh to learn more or begin a free trial.
Whole Foods’ Amazon Prime discount
Capitalising on the Whole Foods partnership, Amazon offers Prime Members a discount at Whole Foods’ physical stores. The announcement of this Prime perk came in 2018, and continues as a benefit in 2020. Prime members will receive a 10% off discount, plus exclusive deals on many items in the store by scanning their Whole Foods Market app or Amazon app at checkout — download the app and learn more at amazon.com/primesavings.
What is Amazon Prime Pantry?
Amazon Prime Pantry launched on Amazon in the US in 2014. Offering customers another option to shop grocery products, which is still targeted, but more widely available. Taking advantage of the 100 million-plus Prime-member households, Amazon offers a special service to order grocery and household items.
Unlike Amazon Fresh, Prime Pantry does not offer perishables like meat, dairy, vegetables, or items requiring refrigeration. In Amazon’s words:
“Prime members in select regions can shop for groceries and household products in everyday sizes, such as a single box of cereal, with Prime Pantry. Prime Pantry offers low priced products and exclusive savings, such as deals and coupons... you can choose between thousands of items available, including snacks, breakfast foods, beverages, beauty and personal care items, and household products and save a trip to the store. You can shop on Prime Pantry Store or by using the free Amazon app.”
As far as cost, Amazon US Prime members can pay an additional monthly Prime Pantry membership fee to receive free shipping on all orders of $40 or more, or pay a flat $7.99 shipping fee for each order placed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Pantry was temporarily suspended in the US via a March 13 announcement. This was due to a massive influx of orders while people were in quarantine. While Amazon FCs simply couldn’t keep up due to prioritisation of in-demand goods, the shut-down was temporary. As of the end of May, services in the US resumed at a much more normal capacity.
Prime Pantry discontinued in the UK
Amazon announced that Prime Pantry would discontinue as of June 30, 2020, in the United Kingdom. “As part of our commitment to delivering the best possible customer experience, most of the favourite Amazon Pantry bestsellers will soon be available on Amazon.co.uk with faster delivery and no minimum spend, along with the thousands of low-priced everyday products already available,” Amazon said.
Other options still exist in the UK when it comes to Amazon grocery, too. Whole Foods stores, Amazon Fresh, and Prime Now likely fill most of the gap Prime Pantry leaves. Prime Pantry also is still going strong in the United States. Largely and likely because of the much different landscape when it comes to population density, space, and fulfillment options.
US expansion of Prime Pantry
As of June 2020, Amazon recently expanded Prime Pantry in the US to accept federal benefit payments through SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) — typically referred to as “food stamps” — to purchase groceries online for home delivery from Amazon. SNAP purchasing via Prime Pantry and Amazon Grocery is now open to Amazon customers in 36 states. According to their latest update, SNAP participants can use their benefits to purchase eligible food items, but are not able to use SNAP benefits to pay for service or delivery charges. SNAP recipients in select states will have the ability to shop the grocery and household selection on Amazon Grocery, AmazonFresh, and Prime Pantry without requiring a membership fee, and with free shipping.