When you get to the grocery store after a long day of work, the lines are long, the crowds are large, and the produce looks less than fresh.
It’s a familiar scene: you grab the last sad pack of tomatoes, impulse buy some beer and candy, and join the queue. The heavy bags hurt your back, and you long for the moment you can get through your door and flop on the couch. You’re so tired from the escapade that you give in and order takeout – a blow for your bank balance, as well as your cholesterol.
Now picture this – you order your groceries from the comfort of your own home, taking time to plan nourishing and tasty recipes. You compare products and keep track of your cart total, away from the stress of a busy grocery store. Better yet, your shopping is delivered to your door, fresh and carefully packaged.
If you like the sound of the second scenario, you’ll love Amazon Fresh: a grocery delivery service that makes shopping painless.
But how does it work? What does it cost? Who can use it?
Keep reading to find out if this genius concept could be the answer to your grocery woes.
Amazon Fresh: a Break Down
What is Amazon Fresh?
AmazonFresh is Amazon’s grocery delivery service.
It’s been around since 2007 in the Seattle Area, and now Amazon Prime members in a range of other locations can take advantage of this service.
It lets you do your grocery shopping online – direct from local vendors as well as Amazon stock – with one single, simple billing system.
The produce is delivered straight to your door by a trusted Amazon driver – ready for you to cook, use, and enjoy.
How Much Does Amazon Fresh Cost?
An AmazonFresh subscription used to cost $299 annually before Amazon lowered the price to $14.99 per month ($179.88 per year) for Prime members. As it was billed separately, subscribers had to pay for the service on top of their existing Amazon Prime membership.
Thankfully, that’s all in the past – AmazonFresh is now free with a Prime membership. You’re only charged for delivery if you don’t meet the spending threshold. In most areas, this threshold is $35, but in others, it can range to $50.
Whilst this is great news if you’ve already got a membership – if not, you will have to get Prime to get started.
The basic annual cost of a Prime Membership is $119. If you’ve got an EBT or Medicaid card, however, Prime is available for around $72 annually (or $5.99 for one month). If you’re a student, you can also access the service for a reduced price: $77.88 annually (or $6.49 per month).
Although this cost seems daunting, if you think you’ll take advantage of the range of Prime offers available – as well as enjoying the convenience of having your groceries delivered – the investment could be worth it.
It’s also worth thinking about the costs you incur to do your grocery shopping the traditional way. Do you take a taxi to the store, or run a car? Perhaps you make impulse purchases that break the budget. If this is the case, the free shipping that AmazonFresh provides – as well as being able to avoid the temptation of a grocery store candy aisle – will make that membership cost-effective and handy.
Although you can’t use traditional coupons, Amazon does hold sales known as ‘Fresh Deals.’ There’s a whole bunch of pages dedicated to Fresh coupons, and you can sign up to deal alerts via their weekly newsletter.
Who Can Use Amazon Fresh?
Amazon Fresh is only available in select cities. The only way to know if you’re geographically eligible is to check the website and see.
The service is now available in more than 2000 towns and cities, but Amazon says they will continue to expand the service – especially in line with the surge in demand caused by Covid-19.
Anyone with a Prime membership – be it a free trial or full-ride – is eligible to register for Amazon Fresh.
How Does Amazon Fresh Work?
You access AmazonFresh through the standard Amazon interface, so it’s familiar and simple.
First, log in to your Amazon account, and request access to Amazon Fresh. You’ll receive an email when your request is registered, and another when Amazon approve you to use the service.
You can use the search bar to look for individual items like ‘Jennie-O Lean Ground Turkey’, or browse general categories – e.g. ‘fresh produce’ or ‘dairy and eggs’ from the main page and the sidebar menu.
All items are broken up into traditional store categories, and you can whittle down search results based on things like ‘vegetarian’, ‘gluten-free’ or ‘Kosher.’
The items you put in your Amazon Fresh food cart are held separately from the rest of the site, so you won’t be able to order something like a blender or a games console at the same time.
Once you’re done with your grocery shopping, it’s time to check out. There are two delivery options to choose from: attended and doorstop.
Attended delivery means you have to choose a one-hour time slot in which you’ll be home to receive your order in paper bags.
Doorstop delivery means a delivery driver will bring your order to you and leave it outside in temperature-controlled totes. For this, you’ll select a two to three-hour time window, and you don’t need to be present to take delivery of your groceries. Frozen produce and fresh items are often kept cool with ice packs, and you can return the totes by leaving them outside your door the next time the delivery guy comes. This option is ideal if you often have to dash out to pick up kids, walk dogs, or take long phone calls.
To put it simply, using AmazonFresh is a simple three-step process: just pick, pay, and receive.
What Can I Buy on Amazon Fresh?
Anything you can buy in a grocery store!
Most standard items are available – from household items (like cleaning products or baby food) to fresh fruit, veg, meat, and pulses.
The categories are as follows:
- Fresh produce
- Meat and Seafood
- Dairy and Eggs
- Frozen Foods
- Beer, Wine, and Spirits
Amazon Fresh even offers a ‘local market’ section with brands unique to your neighborhood.
The only things missing are generic store brand items. Aside from the Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday range, you can only really choose from brand-name items – so for basics like pasta or canned tomatoes, it’s worth doing a quick price comparison against your local grocery store before making your purchase.
What is the Quality of Food and Delivery from Amazon Fresh like?
Like any grocery store, the quality of the food available on Amazon Fresh depends on its brand and price.
The fresh items available – like fruit, veg, or meat – are arguably better quality than what’s available in a grocery store at the end of a long working day. They’re not squashed and bruised from handling, and your items are kept cool by temperature-controlled totes and strategically placed ice packs.
For the avid foodie, the downside of Amazon Fresh is not being to touch the produce. You can’t choose individual items, and you can’t request specific weights of deli products, meat, or seafood. For the average cook, this won’t present too much of an issue, but if you’re picky about the ripeness of your fruit, or you like picking out one special cut of meat, Amazon Fresh might not be the right option for you.
Crucially, if you run into any problems with quality or delivery you can contact Amazon Fresh customer support easily through its online chat feature. Just open the web page and click ‘Contact Fresh’ at the top of the sidebar to get your problem solved in minutes.
Pros and Cons of Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery
Phew – that was a lot of information. For a quick rundown of the pros and cons of Amazon Fresh, read below.
- Convenience: the ease of having your groceries delivered is what draws most people to Amazon Fresh
- Familiar, user-friendly Amazon interface
- Single billing system: pay for all of your groceries at once, even if they’re from different stores
- Comes free with prime
- Sales: known as ‘fresh deals’
- Reliable customer service
- Distanced: if you choose doorstep delivery, you’ll be able to receive your groceries without any direct contact with drivers or doormen (ideal if you’re self-isolating)
- Choice: you’re not able to pick the fruit you think looks good, or a specific cut of meat
- It’s not available everywhere outside of big cities
- Price: if you’re not already an Amazon Prime member, signing up can feel like a big investment
Do you save money with Amazon Fresh?
It’s hard to answer this question simply, as it depends on a lot of different factors.
Do you usually get a taxi or run a car to get to your grocery store of choice? If so, the free delivery offered by Amazon Fresh could take a considerable chunk off of your travel expenses.
If you’re an impulsive shopper, and often leave the store with a cart full of items that weren’t on your list, remote grocery shopping could also bring down costs.
If we’re talking solely about the price of items on Amazon Fresh in comparison to your local grocery store, this largely depends on your address.
To help us out, I compared the prices of a few products available on Amazon Fresh in my zip-code, with the price of the same stuff at my local Whole Foods.
Eggs, first of all (for a large, organic pack of 12) came in at just $3.99 on Amazon Fresh, in comparison to $6.49 at the grocery store.
Next, I tried a fish option – a quarter-pound pack of Ducktrap smoked salmon. The price of these was the same – $7.99 on each platform.
Dairy also seemed pretty similar in price – with a 5oz tub of grated parmesan costing $4.99 at Whole Foods, in comparison to $4.89 on Amazon Fresh.
For household products like laundry detergent, Amazon Fresh was the clear winner, costing just $6.97 for a basic branded detergent in comparison to the $12 detergent sold at Whole Foods.
To make Amazon Fresh cost-efficient, it’s worth doing a short price comparison – as well as considering the other external factors – before you sign up.
What are the benefits of Amazon fresh?
Though there are many benefits to Amazon Fresh, the first and most important is its convenience. The simplicity of ordering groceries from your phone or laptop – taking time to consider recipes and try new things without the stress of a packed grocery store aisle – is what prompts most people to give the service a go.
The familiar, user-friendly interface makes shopping for your groceries no more complex than browsing Amazon. The single-billing system used by Amazon Fresh – you’re charged all at once for your groceries, even if they come from different stores – is great if you’re trying to keep track of your spending.
Amazon’s customer service is established and reliable, giving you a trusty safety net for your trial.
Amazon Fresh is also a particularly good option for those affected by Covid-19. Whether you’re socially isolating or sheltering in place, the ‘doorstep delivery’ option means you can receive groceries without coming into contact with people from outside of your household.
Can you get discounts on Amazon Fresh?
The sales or ‘fresh deals’ that Amazon offers can be as cost-efficient as traditional coupons. By signing up for the savings newsletter and deal alerts, you can benefit from discounts on a range of products.
It’s worth remembering too that the service comes free with prime – meaning if you’re already signed up, your delivery is paid for.
Though it’s not a discount per se, Amazon can also save impulsive shoppers cash. By preventing the panic purchases of beer and candy that often occur at the end of a long and stressful working day, Amazon fresh gets you to stick to the healthy – and cheap – meal options already in your fridge.
What’s better, Instacart or Amazon Fresh?
Instacart is another grocery delivery service, available in a growing list of US cities. The prices stretch from $5.99 for a two-hour delivery slot, to $9.99 for a one hour window. Their annual membership fee will set you back $99 (but with this, you can waive the delivery fees above).
Though this annual pricing is a little cheaper than Amazon Prime (necessary to redeem Amazon Fresh), they do have a particularly high markup on items compared to other grocery delivery services. They also have more service fees, and like Google Express, Instacart charges a delivery fee for different grocery stores (so to make it cost-efficient, you’re restricted to shopping for everything in one place).
Placing your first order can also be a slight learning curve. It takes a while to figure out how to leave notes for your shopper, and search for items. It’s kind of like learning where everything is at a new store.
Unlike with Amazon Fresh – where you can choose from doorstep or one-hour attended delivery – you will need to be present to receive your order from Insta Cart.
Although Instacart could be a good option if you live somewhere not covered by Amazon Fresh – if you’re already an Amazon Prime it’s a no-brainer to order groceries on the latter. Their familiar interface and single billing system also put Amazon Fresh in the lead – making online grocery shopping quick as well as cheap.
Is Amazon Fresh right for you?
Amazon Fresh is a handy and simple service – but is it right for you?
To find out, you’ll need to check first of all that Amazon Fresh is available at your address.
If you’ve already got a Prime membership, registering for Amazon Fresh means you can waive the delivery fee without paying for a subscription (unlike Instacart or Google Express).
If you’ve got mobility issues, or you’re shielding from Covid-19, Amazon Fresh could be a lifeline – removing the difficulty of navigating grocery stores or coming into contact with those outside your household.
If this all sounds good to you, give Amazon Fresh a trial run, and take the leg work out of grocery shopping.