It seems like you can buy almost anything on Amazon—and that includes groceries. Fresh is one of three grocery delivery options available from the eCommerce giant along with Pantry and Whole Foods Market. They are all similar in that you can shop for grocery items in much the same way you shop for books or electronic items. It's the same process and checkout, except instead of shipping you choose a delivery window and your purchases are dropped off at your front door. However, the descriptions are a little different.
- Fresh: Grocery delivery and pickup service in select cities. Available exclusively to Prime members by invitation only.
- Pantry: Online store where customers can shop for groceries and household products in everyday package sizes (for example, a single box of cereal). Orders have a flat shipping fee of $5.99 and Prime members can get free delivery by placing orders of $35 and above.
- Whole Foods Market: A Prime membership is required.
If you're too busy to run out and pick up groceries, Fresh is a fantastic option. All you have to do is add the items you want to your cart, check out, choose a same-day delivery window or choose another day, and your order will be dropped off. It's a great option for busy families, the elderly, those at high risk from the coronavirus, or parents of young children.
I've been very impressed with the quality of the fruits and vegetables I've received. I've never received fruits that are beginning to go bad or overly ripe bananas.
The milk I've purchased usually has an expiration date nine to ten days from when I received my order, enough time to use it up.
The "Past Purchases" section makes it easy to shop for things you regularly buy.
The prices are comparable or sometimes even less than my local grocery store.
Many items sold through Fresh are "Eligible for AmazonSmile donation." If you shop using smile.amazon.com, a portion of each grocery order goes to the charity of your choice.
An environmental benefit is that one driver can drop off orders to multiple households which means less polluting vehicles on the road.
While the checkout process is the same as for other items on Amazon, groceries go into a separate section of the cart. I add things I need to the cart throughout the week and because they are in their own Fresh area of the cart, if I need to order an item from regular Amazon, I don't have to move my groceries to the "Save for Later" section.
The first obvious con is that Fresh is only available to Prime members. And it isn't something most people would use for small orders. To qualify for free delivery, the order must be at least $35.
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It isn't available everywhere. You have to check availability in your area.
Because groceries will be dropped at your door, you have to remember to watch out for them. This is especially important if the weather is warm and you've ordered meat and frozen foods. You will get an email letting you know your order is out for delivery and when it's been dropped off.
Fresh has more limited options than my grocery store and some items like milk are more expensive, so using this service may reduce but not eliminate trips to the store for many households. Amazon has its own milk brand that's much cheaper than my local grocery, but it sells out quickly.
Items go out of stock more often than they do in my local grocery store, and they take time to restock. I sometimes have to put off shopping for a day or two until the things I need are available again.
An environmental downside is that lot of packaging is used. My most recent order came in five paper bags. I also regularly order groceries from Target for pickup. At Target, three bags would have been used for all the items that came in five bags from Fresh. Two of those bags had insulated bag liners inside to protect perishable items. That's seven bags for about 20 items. All the bags are recyclable, but it's still a lot of waste.
Tipping, Substitutions, and Delivery Windows
Should you tip the person dropping off the order? In a February 2019 Los Angeles Times article called "Where does a tip to an Amazon driver go? In some cases, toward the driver’s base pay," Amazon was accused of dipping "into the tips earned by contracted delivery drivers to cover their promised pay."
"Amazon guarantees third-party drivers for its Flex program a minimum of $18 to $25 per hour, but the entirety of that payment doesn’t always come from the company. If Amazon’s contribution doesn’t reach the guaranteed wage, the e-commerce giant makes up the difference with tips from customers, according to documentation shared by five drivers...Only drivers who deliver for Amazon’s grocery service or its Prime Now offering—which brings household goods to customers in two hours or less—can receive tips through the company’s app."
When you check out, a tip of $5 is automatically added. You can change this, and even leave it at zero if you want. I always tip a couple of dollars and hope the driver gets it in addition to their base pay.
When you check out, you'll see an "Est. item adjustments" for your order. This is an extra amount you authorize in the event that an out-of-stock item has to be substituted with a more expensive item. You can avoid these charges and unwanted substitutions by checking "Don't Substitute" for each item during the checkout process.
The delivery window is two hours. You can pay $4.99 to get a one-hour delivery window.
© 2020 LT Wright