Amazon Fresh and Grocery Delivery

amUsually on this blog, I focus on parenting skills, child development, early childhood education, and STEM activities for kids. But, today, I’m jumping out of that theme a bit for a local-interest post on local grocery delivery services. (Note: I am not an employee or affiliated with Amazon in any way except as a customer.)

Like many local folks, I use Amazon Fresh for grocery delivery. I’ve used them since they launched, however long it’s been – I can tell you that I’ve ordered milk from them more than 99 times…  I’ve been quite happy with them. We do a delivery about once a week and I very rarely go to the grocery store. (I’ve got a four year old, use crutches, and have  a busy schedule so this makes my life much easier.)

So, like many other users I was very unhappy last fall when they told us they were going to start requiring a membership to use their services. I was relieved when they delayed that requirement… but now, the time has hit. In order to continue using Amazon Fresh, I need to be a Prime Fresh member… $300 a year! So, yes, I was raging about it the other night. But, then my husband pointed out that we already pay $100 for a Prime membership, which is included for Prime Fresh members, so really it’s only $200 more than we currently spend. And, since we do weekly grocery deliveries, that works out to $4 a week for a grocery delivery. (Not having to shlep groceries, not having to drag my four year old through the store, etc.) Huh.. suddenly that seems more reasonable.

But, then I wondered: how do they compare to the competition? I know the Amazon Fresh system and don’t really have the time or energy to learn a new system. But… I needed to know: how do the options compare on the bottom line?

So, I picked 15 items I often order. I purposely picked some fresh produce, some dairy, some staples, some snacks, some organic, some not organic to get a wide sample. And I compared how much it would cost to have those 15 items delivered by

  1. Amazon Fresh
  2. Safeway.com
  3. Whole Foods via Instacart
  4. PCC via Instacart
  5. QFC via Instacart

If a store did not have a specific item, I found what I would consider the best replacement to meet my needs. Sometimes those are perfectly fine replacements, sometimes I would be disappointed to have to make that substitution. (e.g. I really like Blue Sky cola – I have one every afternoon – it’s not available from Safeway or Whole Foods.)

The 15 items were milk, bread, ham, yogurt, juice, beef stew, pretzels, frozen pizza, toilet paper, cereal, cola, apples, bananas, romaine lettuce, and carrots.

For delivery fees, I counted Amazon as $4 per weekly delivery; Safeway is $9.95 per delivery of over $150. Instacart is more complicated pricing, but I chose to consider the option that was $99 per year for a membership, then after that, free delivery of all orders over $35. With weekly orders, that would be $2 per week.

So, the summary results for 15 items plus delivery (to see the spreadsheet click here)

  1. Amazon Fresh: $57.02
  2. Safeway $67.88
  3. Whole Foods $72.72
  4. PCC $79.12
  5. QFC $71.40

With Amazon Fresh I get exactly the product and brand I like to buy. With Safeway and QFC I had to make two substitutions. With PCC, it was 7 substitutions. With Whole Foods, I had to make substitutions on 10 out of 15 items. (Now, obviously, if you normally shop at Whole Foods, you might find you could get all the things you normally buy. But, for me I found very few of the things I buy.)

Clearly, your results may differ radically, based on what you buy and how often you get deliveries. But, despite all my anger at Amazon Fresh when I just looked at the lump sum number… it turns out I’m actually going to pay for the membership and keep on using Amazon Fresh.

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