Shopping for groceries can be really time-consuming, and while convenient and fast meal options may come cheap, they also tend to be pretty unhealthy. Luckily, more and more options are popping up to help maximize the value of your time. AmazonFresh was started back in 2007 (in limited markets) by the world’s most popular online marketplace and aims to deliver you fresh ingredients at a price and time that works best for you.
As a result of Amazon acquiring Whole Foods, you can now order Whole Foods items through AmazonFresh. This is a new addition as of August 28, 2017.
AmazonFresh currently delivers to shoppers in Boston, Baltimore, Seattle, Stamford, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago, New York metro, Northern Virginia, London and parts of California and New Jersey. However, as of November 2017, Amazon reduced their coverage areas in many of these cities and states. People in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, Maryland and California have reported AmazonFresh no longer being available, but it seems to be tied to specific zip codes/areas and not entire states.
I decided to give the service a try recently and here's what I found.
How Much Does AmazonFresh Cost?
To start, you'll need an Amazon Prime membership to access AmazonFresh, and then it will run you $14.99 per month, or $179.88 per year, in addition to your $99 annual Prime membership. Previously, the cost was a rather steep $299 per year (including Prime), but in late 2016, Amazon lowered the cost and made it possible to pay month to month instead. Additionally, delivery is free for orders of at least $40; orders of less than $40 will have a $9.99 delivery fee added to the total.
You'll get your first month of AmazonFresh for free and the service is easy to setup. As far as the cost of the groceries goes, produce through AmazonFresh was around 25% to 50% higher than my local Vons grocery store, with something like a bundle of celery costing $2.49 through Amazon and only $1.99 at Vons.
On the other hand, packaged products like Doritos chips cost $4.49 at Vons and just $3.98 on AmazonFresh, while Philadelphia Cream Cheese was $3.99 at Vons and $2.99 on AmazonFresh. On average, I found that packaged foods were 15% to 30% cheaper, which helped shift the total average cost closer than I had expected. After comparing several orders, the cost of using AmazonFresh was less than 10% more than that of a traditional grocery chain.
The Shopping Experience
If you're familiar with browsing and shopping on Amazon, you should have no issues locating items in Fresh. Items are broken up into traditional grocery store categories, such as “Breads & Bakery,” “Deli,” “Produce,” etc., and you can even narrow down food results based on things like “Kosher,” “Gluten-Free,” or “Organic.” Here in the Los Angeles area, they even had a section titled “Local Market,” with specialty items from local spots, such as The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.
Once you have a cart full of AmazonFresh items, just reserve a delivery time and check out. You'll be prompted to choose a delivery day (based on availability) and select either "Doorstep Delivery" for a three-hour delivery window which you do not have to be present for, or "Attended Delivery" for a one-hour window when you will be available to take the delivery. Nearly all of the time slots during the week were open for each of my orders, making delivery quite convenient.
Quality Of Products
I opted for Doorstep Delivery in each of my three test orders and had no issues with the USPS truck rolling up and dropping off our bright green insulated bags. Each AmazonFresh bag is durable plastic and includes ice packets to help keep your produce fresh until you bring the order inside. (You can leave delivery bags outside to be picked up during the next order.)
The produce quality was surprisingly good. I ordered an array of broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, ginger and much more. Each and every one was without blemishes and seemed to be hand picked to make sure it was of the highest quality. Your mileage may vary depending on your location of course, but I had no problems with any produce delivered throughout the month. The only issue I did have was with a couple items not being available for a week, including packaged broccoli florets and a bag of avocados. This first world problem simply led me to get whole broccoli and avoid guacamole for a week. But for the most part, each packaged and produce item showed up without the damage or flaws that you might be concerned about with a delivery service.
Whole Foods on AmazonFresh
Somewhere around 1,000 Whole Foods products are available to order through AmazonFresh, with more on the way. Most of them seem to be Whole Foods' "low cost" 365 brand. You'll find that product selection varies quite a lot by category. For example, you'll see a decent amount of options in categories such as beverages, frozen goods, cereal, cooking & baking and snack foods. But there's no fresh meat or produce available in the Whole Foods section of AmazonFresh at this point.
Many local grocery chains have started to offer delivery services, and several online businesses have also popped up to help you avoid getting in the car, so it is definitely worth considering all of your options before you choose a grocery delivery service.
Google Express has recently added produce delivery in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets, plus they offer a three-month free trial for new customers. The service costs $95 per year, or pay a flat fee of $4.99 per store for non-members. The minimum price for orders that include fresh groceries is $35. This may seem like a cheaper option, but you would have to consider the fee per store and make sure you don’t spread your orders out across several locations. Plus, the limited market leaves a lot of shoppers out in the cold.
Instacart is another popular same-day delivery service operating in an expanding list of cities across the country. Prices range from $5.99 for a two-hour delivery window to $7.99 for a one-hour delivery window. Alternatively, they offer a membership fee of $149 per year. The annual pricing is lower than AmazonFresh, and could be a good option, especially if you live in a region where it is available, but AmazonFresh is not.
You could also check out the Shipt app, which is growing on the East Coast and in Texas, and offers similar features to AmazonFresh with a yearly membership for $99 or a monthly membership for $14. Shipping is free for orders of at least $35, but the company mentions an average product price increase of around 15%. The company continues to expand, but with limited stores and the increased cost of groceries, this program may not be an option for you.
It seems that Amazon may have finally found a cost that makes sense for AmazonFresh service. At $14.99 per month and no delivery fees (assuming each order is at least $40), there's definitely a lot of appeal for busy folks looking to get their groceries delivered through AmazonFresh. I haven’t had a chance to try the competition, but with reasonable membership fees and one of the biggest available markets, Fresh might just beat out the competition depending on where you live and how you shop. If you are a current Prime member and can get AmazonFresh in your area, I think it is certainly worth a try.
Have you tried any of the grocery delivery services? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Photos by Nolan Browning.
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