azurite: Annie (Piper Perabo) of Covert Affairs, holding up a half-eaten donut with a huge smile (covert affairs - annie haz donut)
[personal profile] azurite
I was so, so excited to hear about Amazon Fresh expanding outside of Seattle, but when it first debuted in Los Angeles, it wasn't in my area. Now it is, and I'm contemplating whether or not it's worth it to even try it for 90 days for free (because I'm an existing Prime member) and then upgrade to their Prime Fresh program, which is a whopping $299/yr (vs. Prime's $79).

Here's my attempt at breaking it down.

Grocery delivery is only available through Vons, a supermarket chain affiliated with Safeway. They're located a few blocks from my home. However, being the oddball Los Angeleno who doesn't drive, if I go grocery shopping, it either has to be with someone who has a car (infrequent) or get only enough to fill up my vertical cart. It's not a huge cart, but it works for laundry, so it should work for groceries, too. Intermittently, I'll run to the grocery store late at night to get one or two things that I can fit in my backpack or carry.

Vons delivers in 1-hour, 2-hour, or 4-hour timeslots. A delivery of $150 or under (which would be my usual, since I'm only buying for myself) costs $12.95. I can sometimes save $3 (for a 2-hour window) or $6 (for a 4-hour window), which means the cheapest that delivery fee would be is $6.95. Sometimes the delivery fee is free--if you buy participating items. Obviously adding these random, probably-don't-need items to my cart would probably add up to at least $6.95, if not more.

However, not every item that's in their stores is on their online site, and sometimes even their stores don't have what I need.

Assuming groceries every two weeks or so, I'd be paying a minimum of $166.80 just in delivery fees from Vons every year. Maximum, I'd be paying $310.80, if I only used the one-hour timeslots (or otherwise picked timeslots that didn't have "save $3/6" on them). If I factored in the occasional grocery run on my own or with someone, that might mean Vons is more cost-effective than Amazon Fresh. This also applies to if I go to Costco, where buying in bulk means I don't go shopping as frequently. That membership is $55/yr.

But what Costco and Amazon have in common is the variety of items; even if Vons has sales for club members, I have to admit, tallying up the coupons, promotional codes, special items, and stuff is a pain in the butt. Costco and Amazon simply have low prices, and that's it.

Considering all the stuff I usually buy on Amazon--I recently renewed my Amazon Prime account because of it--this is where it really determines if Amazon Fresh will be worthwhile TO ME. I'd still get all the benefits of regular Prime, plus free delivery for any order over $35 (for groceries, that's pretty much a given), and the option for early-morning delivery.

The selection includes local fare, which is a huge bonus--supermarket chains like Vons tend to get as much stuff as possible from out-of-country, it seems, so prices get driven up by the cost of gas trucking all this stuff from warehouse to warehouse to store. Plus, organic and fresh items are expensive as heck!

So, aside from all the grocery stuff, Amazon Fresh gets me the usual Prime benefits of:
* Free two-day shipping
* Access to Amazon Instant Video

I ordered 7 things in 2010, 15 things in 2011, 50 things in 2012, and 28 SO FAR in 2013. Considering how much I use Subscribe & Save for "necessities" like bulky items that would be a pain to get at the grocery store OR Costco (or Target, or wherever), I'd wager I'm on track to surpass my total number of orders in 2012. Of course, not all of those orders were for ME, so there's a margin of error to be had.

I'm sure there's a way to look at the CSV reports Amazon can generate about which orders ARE mine, and just how much I spent, but I don't know if that alone would justify the jump from $79 to $299.

I can always try it free for 90 days, but I don't know how long they'll be offering that promotion to existing Prime members.

So, what to do? To Prime Fresh or to not Prime Fresh?

January 2016

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