Four years ago, Amazon made its first attempt at becoming your go-to source for groceries with itsPrime Pantry delivery service. Tackling delivery from the perspective of space within a flat- rate box, Amazon Prime members were previously able to purchase up to 45 pounds of household groceries and ship that heavy box for $6. But now, that fee schedule is changing. Rather than a flat rate, Amazon is turning Prime Pantry into yet another monthly service subscription. If you want to take advantage of Prime Pantry, you have to pay $5 each month for unlimited deliveries and free shipping on orders over $40. If you don’t hit that $40 minimum, you have to pay $2 extra.
Of course, this new $5 monthly fee is an additional cost beyond a yearly Amazon Prime subscription. Items available within the Amazon Pantry system include beverages, food and snacks, standard cooking supplies, personal care items, household cleaning items and pet food.
Interestingly, each item has a percentage of the total box space that is visible before the user places the item in the Prime Pantry delivery box. In addition, anyone that wants to save money on items has the ability to clip digital coupons when available.
Presumably, this means Amazon will apply for the coupon value from the manufacturer while the average consumer can save time by simply clicking a mouse rather than clipping coupons in the Sunday newspaper. Amazon also provides metrics such as price per ounce and price per count, thus the consumer can compare those costs against a typical grocery store.
It’s likely that Amazon is attempting to increase customer interest in products that are cost prohibitive to ship for free or a low cost on the consumer side. Size and quantity of the products are also typical of what you would find in a regular grocery store, not a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club. Prices seem fairly competitive to other online retailers as well. For example, a 21-ounce box of Cheerios is the same price that you would find on Walmart. However, Amazon Prime Pantry doesn’t offer the same level of variety as a typical grocery store. The online retailer seems to be sticking with the most popular brands within the initial launch of the storefront.
Updated on June 1: Amazon Prime Pantry is now on a monthly fee schedule.