Amazon Fresh: Can This Grocery Delivery Service Save You Money?
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If you frequently use Amazon and hate shopping at the grocery store, chances are the Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service has caught your eye.
This service allows you to use a platform that’s probably familiar to you, Amazon, to order fresh groceries delivered right to your doorstep.
It’s a big change from the time-tested way most people get their groceries, so you might be skeptical about springing for the $14.99 monthly subscription fee. We all know that having your groceries delivered straight to your home is convenient, but the real question — is it worth it?
For Starters, What is Amazon Fresh?
Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service. You can get essentially everything you can purchase at a regular grocery store through the platform, including:
- Fresh meat and seafood
- Fresh produce
- Shelf-stable pantry items
- Pet food
- Frozen food
- Household cleaning supplies
- Health, beauty, and wellness goods
- Beverages (including alcoholic beverages)
Amazon Fresh has been around since 2007 in the Seattle area. It’s expanded to other cities since, although Amazon Fresh has also been shut down in some areas it used to operate in.
The only way to know if Amazon Fresh is available in your area is to check the website and see. The service is only available in certain ZIP Codes, so just because you live in a major city doesn’t necessarily mean Amazon Fresh will deliver to your home.
How does Amazon Fresh work?
Ordering from Amazon Fresh is simple. If you’re already an Amazon Prime member, you qualify for a 30-day free trial of Amazon Fresh. Simply log onto the website, claim your free trial, and place your order.
You can search for individual items such as “feta cheese” or “Athene’s feta cheese” in the search bar, or browse general categories such as “produce” or “perishables” from the sidebar menu and the main page.
The items in your Amazon Fresh cart are held separately from the rest of Amazon.com, so you can’t place an order for a pool toy or a microwave at the same time.
When you’ve put everything you want in your cart, you’re ready to check out. You can choose from one of two delivery options:
- Attended delivery requires you to select a one-hour time window when you agree to be home to receive the order in paper bags.
- Doorstep delivery is a two- to three-hour time window when a delivery person will drop off your order at your doorstep in temperature-controlled totes. You don’t need to be present, and you can return the totes by placing them outside your door when you place your next order.
If you happen to live in Seattle, you can order groceries through the Amazon Fresh platform and choose a time to pick them up yourself in Ballard or SODO. You won’t need an Amazon Fresh subscription to use this method, but you’ll still need to be an Amazon Prime member.
What does Amazon Fresh cost?
You’ll need two things to get Amazon Fresh deliveries:
- A yearly Amazon Prime subscription: $119/year
- A monthly Amazon Fresh subscription: $14.99/month
Combining the two, Amazon Fresh will cost you $298.88 per year. However, if you already have an Amazon Prime subscription, Amazon Fresh costs just $179.88 more per year than what you’ve already spent.
Amazon Fresh also charges a $9.99 delivery fee for every order below $35 or $50, depending on where you live. If your order costs more than this, you won’t need to worry about the delivery fee. Additionally, if you choose to pick up your groceries in person from one of the two Seattle Amazon Fresh locations, there is no fee.
Is Amazon Fresh Worth It?
The consensus among subscribers seems to be that Amazon Fresh knocks it out of the park in some areas, but seriously misses in others. Let’s dive into the details.
We compared prices on 20 common grocery items available through the Seattle Amazon Fresh market with a Fred Meyers grocery store in Kirkland, Washington. Grocery prices in this area are on par with nationwide grocery prices.
|Grocery Item||Grocery Store Cost||Amazon Fresh Cost||Percent Savings (Loss)|
|1 lb ground beef, 80/20||$3.99||$4.24||(6.27)|
|1-gallon milk, 2%||$2.69||$5.09||(89.22)|
|1 lb fresh tilapia fillets||$7.99||$6.71||16.02|
|12 oz honey||$3.19||$2.89||9.40|
|1 head romaine lettuce||$1.79||$1.79||0|
|1 large avocado||$2.49||$1.79||28.11|
|1 dozen eggs||$1.79||$2.79||(55.87)|
|1 lb chicken breast||$4.99||$5.66||(13.43)|
|5 lbs flour||$1.99||$3.29||(65.33)|
|48 oz canola oil||$1.99||$4.49||(125.63)|
|1 bunch fresh parsley||$0.99||$1.29||(30.30)|
|16 oz orzo pasta||$1.49||$1.49||0|
|1 package ramen noodles||$0.25||$0.25||0|
|1 red bell pepper||$1.57||$2.29||(45.86)|
|1 lb steelhead trout fillet||$11.99||$11.99||0|
|1 lb beef chuck roast||$5.49||$8.90||(62.11)|
|1 lb ground turkey||$3.99||$4.99||(25.06)|
|6 oz crimini mushrooms||$1.50||$1.50||0|
|5 oz feta cheese||$6.49||$6.49||0|
For the entire order, Amazon Fresh was about 17% more expensive than shopping at the grocery store. Some items were much more expensive than their grocery store equivalents. For example, a gallon of 2% milk costs $5.09 through Amazon Fresh, while at the grocery store it only cost $2.69 — almost half as much.
One downside of Amazon Fresh is that you can’t use digital or paper coupons with your order. To compensate for that, Amazon Fresh offers Fresh Deals, which are essentially just certain grocery items on sale.
It appears that the quality of food you get through Amazon Fresh varies. Most people don’t have any problems at all.
However, there are a few reports of problems with delivery, such as squashed produce or leaky liquids that contaminate the food in the delivery bags. One of the nice things about Amazon Fresh compared to a grocery store is that you can see reviews for the items you’re interested in buying.
You can compare similar items against each other and review the common complaints. Produce and meat generally have lower ratings than mass-produced, shelf-stable items like pasta and hard taco shells.
You can get just about any common grocery items on Amazon Fresh. This includes fresh produce, meat, and seafood. It even offers a “Local Market” section with brands local to your area. It does not, however, offer cheap generic food items. You can generally only select from more expensive name-brand items, aside from Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday.
Another downside is that you can’t pick out individual produce items or meat cuts like you can when you go to the grocery store. If you’re picky about getting slightly green bananas, or if you’re a foodie chef who enjoys picking out your ingredients, Amazon Fresh may not be for you.
You also can’t pick out specific weights of meat, deli, or seafood. For example, if you want to make a pot roast, you can only order chuck roast in a two-pound package. You can order multiple packages, of course, but it’s unclear if you’ll get two separate packages or if you can combine them to get one single four-pound roast.
The biggest drawback of Amazon Fresh is that it’s plagued with inconsistency. It appears that the service has been trying a lot of different strategies in different markets, sometimes with disastrous results. There have been reports of people waiting around to receive an Attended Delivery order that never came, delivery men not picking up totes, and missing or poor-quality items in the order.
The bright side is that you can contact Amazon Fresh easily through its online chat support by clicking “Contact Fresh” at the top of the sidebar.
According to reviews, they’re very lenient in giving out refunds and credit.
Amazon Fresh Pros and Cons
|Amazon Fresh offers a free 30-day trial for you to test the service out.||You can’t choose specific portions of food (1 ½ lb of cheese or a 6 ½-lb roast, for example).|
|It’s easy and convenient.||It’s not available everywhere, particularly outside of big cities.|
|You can order a wide range of items, including fresh meat, seafood, and produce.||Prices tend to be a bit more expensive with Amazon Fresh, although there are exceptions.|
|Amazon Fresh offers sales, known as Fresh Deals.||It costs $14.99/month, on top of your normal Prime membership.|
|Customer service is very helpful when you have problems.||You don’t get to pick out your own produce.|
|You don’t have to be present for deliveries if you choose a Doorstep Delivery.||You can’t use normal coupons.|
|It can save you money if you’re an impulse shopper.||Reports say the service is sometimes inconsistent, unreliable, and of poor quality.|
|You can see reviews for the groceries you buy.||Does not offer generic, store-brand items aside from Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday store brand.|
Is Amazon Fresh Right For You?
There are a few reasons why you might want to try Amazon Fresh, such as if you:
- Don’t have enough time or patience to go grocery shopping each week
- Can’t easily get out of your home to go grocery shopping
- Are an impulse shopper who’s easily tempted by candy and snacks that aren’t on your list
- Want a service that forces you to plan out your grocery needs ahead of time
If this is the case, Amazon Fresh may be right for you. Although the service does have some problems with reliability in certain areas, it’s always free to do a 30-day trial. That way, you can see for yourself if it’s worth spending the extra $14.99/month on top of a Prime membership.