Amazon Launches Prime Pantry – a $6 Shipping Charge Aimed Across the Bow of Target
However much the average Amazon Prime member is spending on groceries at Amazon, it’s clearly not enough for the retailer.
A new program was quietly launched today on Amazon.com. It’s called Amazon Prime Pantry, and it is basically a challenge to see how many groceries an Amazon customer can fit into a box.
Amazon Prime Pantry is a flat rate shipping option that Amazon is now offering to Prime members. In addition to free 2-day shipping and ridiculously cheap overnight shipping on hundreds of thousands of items, Amazon is now going to let Prime members pay $6 per box to ship as many grocery items as can fit into a 4 cubic foot box without going over a weight limit (45 pounds).
Amazon packs the box automatically, and as you load up your virtual shopping cart they will offer a running total of just how how full the box is.
This shipping option is not available for all Prime items, just consumables like food, soaps and detergent, pet care, and other household items that need to be replaced on a regular basis. It’s the type of goods that everyone buys a lot of but no one really likes to go shopping for, and now Amazon wants to save their customers the headache.
And given the timing, Amazon is probably also firing back at Target. With annual revenues of $72.5 billion in 2013, Target is actually a larger retailer in the US market than Amazon, and Target expanded their Target Subscription service last week to include 1,500 consumables. Target customers can schedule regular purchases and get free shipping, a 5% discount, and an additional 5% off if the purchase is made with a Target card.
Does anyone else think this is the early stages of a price war?
Ebook Bargains UK April 24, 2014 um 4:13 am
That’s the last thing Amazon needs right now, with shareholders getting at best impatient and at worst nervous, depending on how the numbers pan out later today.
Hard to see how Amazon can seriously compete with the established retailers by expecting Prime customers to work out size and weight of items to guess how many they can fit inside a box.
Will Amazon have some fancy on-screen software that shows how a variety of different packets and cans are able to be packed efficiently within the weight limit or is it going to be down to warehouses workers to start packing, find the order doesn’t comply, and tell the customer to try again?
I would imagine those cash-rich/time-poor enough not to go to a bricks and mortar store for these sort of goods in the first place won’t be too bothered by shipping prices regardless.
Rob Siders April 24, 2014 um 10:18 am
When you shop the Pantry store, Amazon shows you how much of your box is complete. I tested a few items—a 6-pack roll of paper towels and a box of lawn and leaf trash bags—and it showed a picture of a box and what percentage was filled. In my case, it was 29 percent full. Weight also has something to do with it: next I chose a 6-pack of bottled water—which isn’t very large—and the tally jumped to 45 percent. How accurate all of that is is on Amazon, not the consumer.
I can see how this is attractive, although I likely won’t use it. Amazon’s prices on these sorts of items are somewhat competitive, but I can usually find these things locally for less and there’s no way I’d spend six bucks in gas to get them (although my time is worth more than that, so…). Where my family really saves is on the subscription service with bulk package items—dipes and wipes for my 20-month-old, toothpaste, and shower soap.