Amazon Fresh Grocery Delivery in San Diego
Find out if Amazon Fresh lives up to the hype…
Disclosures: I’ve used Amazon Fresh (3) times so far. (now 4, see update at the bottom) Everything was paid for by me.
There’s very few conveniences missing in our busy lives these days. The elusive automatic clothes folding machine, the missing sock finder, and grocery delivery… The holy grail of consumerism. I remember doing a business school case study on the failure of WebVan during the dotcom bubble. What would make AmazonFresh any different?
Improve My Life
Did Amazon Fresh improve my life at all? It did. Just, not in the way I imagined.
You’re missing the exercise of going to the grocery store, walking around endlessly for an hour, and taking the groceries to/from your transport. That was the expected health negative from using Amazon Fresh.
Little hint: If your plan is to eat healthier don’t have your plan revolve around a grocery delivery service 🙂
Grocery delivery is a great supplement to a healthy living lifestyle. Fresh fruits and veggies delivered weekly. However, their selection is limited and without knowing the sources I’m certain the health conscious crowd won’t be satisfied. Amazon Fresh tries to give a happy medium by using optional local suppliers but, this is often at a premium and results in a longer delivery window.
Groceries on AmazonFresh are competitively priced and in my experience I’d say generally on par with your local grocer or a small 7-10% premium on some products. A frugal shopper could easily pay the same with AmazonFresh as they would locally with one BIG exception. Coupons.
For the time being, you cannot use manufacturer coupons.
Instead, you can only use Amazon coupons which are few and far between. The bargain shopper will be put-off by this. Also, if you calculate your cost-savings of gas/maintenance with your transportation you’re also not saving much considering their annual price ($299).
The BIG savings comes in the form of opportunity cost. Your time at the grocery store is time wasted. For example, because of the hour I saved using Amazon Fresh I was able to write this blog post.
Selection is limited. To give you an idea, they proudly proclaim “Key Lime Pie” on their bright green delivery totes. Sounds delicious, amirite? Yet, when I search for “Key Lime Pie” it’s nowhere to be found…
Delivery & Grocery Quality
OMG Amazon Fresh is Fast! They offer two types of delivery:
- Attended – You must be present
- Doorstep Delivery – You don’t need to be present
Both are super convenient and often times are offered same day or at the very least super early the following day. Delivery speed might be Amazon Fresh’s greatest strength. They really exceed your expectations with this. Even as a long time Prime customer, I was floored by the delivery speed. They deliver the groceries in these big green re-usable bags with coolers. Inside the groceries are placed into disposable bags so that should alleviate your sanitary concerns. The annoying thing was you have to keep these big green totes until next time. They claim you can break the big green tote-coolers down but, it’s a huge pain in the ass. I found that I could barely turn 7 totes into 3 totes after 10 minutes of hard labor.
The food was fresh. It had reasonable expiration dates. And, yes the eggs survived…
Pricing: $299/yr including Amazon Prime
This will be the hardest part for everyone. And, Amazon doesn’t do a good job justifying it. And, how could they? If you do the math you’re not saving in terms of gas/car maintenance. You’re paying for convenience and time savings. Which makes sense for a niche group of people. Many people are accustomed to forking over $100 to CostCo annually for the benefits they offer, I suggest Amazon take note.
The other thing is you need to get your order over $35 to qualify for “free” delivery and you still tip the driver – unless you’re a jerk.
So, is Amazon Fresh worth it? To some people maybe. Sadly for me, no.
I’ve canceled my 30-day trial and don’t intend to renew. I cannot justify an additional $200/yr expense for an incrementally better grocery experience that is still limited in many aspects. Combine that with free grocery delivery from my local SafeWay and disruptive grocery apps like “Boxed” being options – you just cannot justify that price. That being said, it’s a relatively fresh new service and there’s lots of room for growth. I suspect based on the feedback of customers like myself they might be able to mold this program into it’s next golden goose. I’m very much looking forward to a $100 price drop, better selection, and competitive coupons. One other thing could really help this get off the ground – an extended trial period. If Amazon gifted everyone 1-year of Amazon Fresh for the holidays this year we might be able to pay them back in the future years. Hint, hint!
UPDATE Oct. 2016:
Amazon Fresh recently changed their program, I’m certain thanks to customer feedback. Their new proposition seemed much more palatable $14.99/mo (for Amazon Prime members) and minimum order of $40 to qualify for free delivery. On that note, I decided to give them another chance. For $15/month it seems pretty reasonable to have someone deliver your groceries. Unfortunately, I found this offer was too good to be true because it comes with some major caveats.
A. USPS Delivery
I loaded up a cart of $150 worth of groceries, and selected my attended delivery time frame. Living in SoCal high temps in October is nothing new, the groceries were dropped off around 6PM (the end of my 4-6PM attended delivery spectrum) not by a delivery driver, but by the USPS. If you’re familiar with how the USPS handles regular packages, you can already tell they are likely going to be less than kind to groceries. The MASSIVE Amazon grocery bags arrived dirty, ice melted, and a nightmare to deal with. I had to wipe down these individually before bringing them inside, and of course most of the food was spoiled. Could you imagine these groceries sitting in the back of a USPS truck half the day and inside a USPS facility the other half of the day? Yuck. Additionally, these packages had someone else’s information still on them from a previous delivery which is a privacy issue. I would strongly recommend Amazon use their own delivery force if they’re going to continue with this service. Relying on USPS to deliver your groceries is pretty unrealistic in my humble opinion.
B. Grocery Bags Themselves
Anyone who has ordered food delivery from BlueApron, HelloFresh, etc. know that they come way over-packaged and leave you with a ridiculous amount of waste. For Amazon, you get the bonus of not being able to recycle them because you have to hold on to them to exchange them. Exchanging these alone will eventually become a major health concern, given the way some of the groceries are packed. I mentioned in my original review that you should break these containers down into a single container. It’s just such a pain, that I can’t honestly see most families dealing with this consistently or justifying this is somehow saving them time from actually visiting the grocery store.
I reached out to Amazon customer service who quickly rectified these problems and to be fair, I am always keeping an open mind about using them again. To be very clear, I WANT Amazon Fresh to work out!
This service has got much better in terms of pricing, but regrettably worse in terms of delivery and delivery means. I wish they’d take a page from SafeWay who does grocery shopping delivered right. They force attended delivery, they have a SafeWay driver manage the delivery and put the groceries physically into your house without any additional cartons/containers, and they only require a $150+ order. Both services lack in pricing, discounts, and real-time availability of items — but, I’m optimistic we will have a “semi-perfect” grocery delivery service in the next few years. Is it going to be Amazon Fresh or someone else, is the big question 🙂
Have you tried Amazon Fresh yet? What’s your experience been like so far? Please share in the comments below!