/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Would you do your weekly food shop with Amazon?

It’s that time of year when we’re all tempted by the ease and convenience of ordering from Amazon. But would you be happy to order your Christmas food shop alongside your Christmas presents?

Thanks to the recent launch of Amazon’s ‘Pantry’ service in the UK this could soon be possible. It’s only available to Prime members, who will now be able to fill a Pantry box with up to 20kg of groceries from a list of 4,000 items. Delivery of a first box costs £2.99 with further boxes charged at 99p.

You won’t be able to order fresh fruit and vegetables just yet – but the retail giant aims to have that one covered very soon when it launches its full grocery service, AmazonFresh.

Will Amazon food orders work?

Amazon has tried to branch out into the world of food and drink before. We tested it back in 2010 with pretty disastrous results:

‘Our poor tester who had eight deliveries for her full grocery order. Eight! And to make matters worse, not all were delivered on the same day – in fact, the whole lot took a week to arrive! Our tester’s postage totalled £60 on an order costing £74. No-one can consider that value for money…’

So can Amazon make food orders work with its new venture? If it can get the price and the deliveries right then its monopoly on just-about-anything-you-could-ever-want-to-buy will be complete. A rather depressing thought for me – but for the supermarkets too, I’d imagine.

Amazon vs the supermarket

I’ve never bought into online grocery shopping – to me, it removes another layer of interaction, both in terms of chatting to shop staff and deciding which carrots to buy. But I’m lucky to have lots of great local shops, which means I can avoid supermarkets as much as possible – and a car when needs must.

Many people don’t have these options, so online shopping is a handy solution. The question is, will ordering food from Amazon be any different from doing an online shop with a supermarket?

I want to know where Amazon will be sourcing its fresh food from – and how much it might try to undercut competitors. Make grocery shopping much cheaper and our already-stretched farmers will struggle to meet demand. I’m worried that extra competition could force supermarkets to squeeze our food producers’ margins way beyond what they need to survive.

How appealing is Amazon’s Pantry service to you? Is speed and convenience more important than a personal shopping service? Would you use it regularly if it’s cheaper than supermarkets – or do you share my concerns about the wider implications of adding more competition to the groceries market?

Yvonne says:
5 December 2015

I do all my grocery shopping online anyway. I pay an annual delivery fee of £60 so, on the basis of a weekly shop, Amazon’s charges would work out around the same price. Therefore three things influence whether I would do my grocery shopping with Amazon; service, range and price. Sensible substitutions, Prompt delivery and good communication are vital . The range of goods is probably the most important factor because I want to be able to do all my grocery shopping in one place. Provided I’m not paying more, overall, price would be less significant. If Amazon can meet these expectations then, yes, I would do my grocery shop with them.

Paul says:
5 December 2015

I may use Amazon when they start paying their MORAL TAXES

I certainly would NOT consider buying groceries from Amazon, and I am pleased to see that many other commenters concur.
I have been boycotting Amazon for more than a year.
I have also joined the challenge to remain Amazon-free during this busy pre-Xmas period.

[This comment has been tweaked to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, Mods]

No way will I support this….

1. as long as Amazon continue to exploit tax legalities in competition against Uk retailers

2. do not believe they have any expertise in groceries- just a cynical attempt to leverage their existing customer base

Barbara Ren says:
5 December 2015

There is no way I will be buying anything from Amazon until they change their tax avoiding tactics, pay their staff a decent wage and reduce the pressurised environment their staff work under. I was sent a free trial for Amazon Prime, I have cut up the card and it is in the bin. I will be buying my grandson’s presents from Smyths who pay their taxes and any books from independent book stores. Amazon in using tax avoidance strategies creates an unfair advantage in their pricing of goods. I used to be a member of Lovefilm and I am extremely vexed that this was taken over by Amazon, talk about monopolies!!!

I am an Amazon Prime customer. Deliveries are now being made up to 10pm. My last delivery from Amazon was at 9:40pm. If they cannot deliver earlier than I, for one, will be cancelling my Amazon Prime and I certainly will not be ordering groceries from them

5 December 2015

Not until Amazon start paying their proper share of taxes to the UK

Does this deal ,you have to await the arrival of your parcel on whatever day at an arbitrary time? Hmmm
Simpler to nip down to Tescos. All major supermarkets do a reliable delivery service now.
I agree with previous comment. Until the Chancellor catches up with these tax dodgers, I will give them a wide berth.

I won’t be buying food from Amazon because I have been boycotting Amazon altogether for several years. Amazon’s aggressive (if ‘legal’) tax avoidance strategy, by taking advantage of the tax rules in different states and jurisdictions, effectively means that it is being subsidized by us ordinary taxpayers, to the disadvantage of UK based businesses. I have found that Amazon are not always cheapest, even for books. There are plenty of UK on-line businesses, just as efficient, able (between them) to supply anything offered by Amazon. It is only necessary to make the effort to shop around. Of course Amazon is not the only tax avoider; this problem seems common to global corporations. But why would we buy anything knowing it to be unfairly traded?

Having been an avid Amazon fan over the last few years, with my orders now reaching to at least one per week, I see the attraction now beginning to wain. Just lately I have been let down by bad deliveries and damaged goods; I believe because of cost cutting tactics such as employing shoddy delivery vendors and suspect market place sellers.
Greed on the part of Amazon is fast making their store a second rate service, so I for one wouldn’t trust them with my food. It will be interesting to see where they are this time next year.

Susan says:
5 December 2015

No way. Our Waitrose delivery guy used to work for Amazon, and he said the way they treat their staff is awful, and the couriers delivering their parcels look stressed, ill and tired – one told me he hadn’t had time to eat all day (it was 8pm), so they don’t treat workers with any dignity or respect. Based on this I can’t imagine they will have any remotely ethical consideration for the welfare of already struggling local farmers /producers, or have much concern for animal welfare . Finally I don’t like the way they dodge taxes in the UK, so no will definitely not be using them for groceries. They have far too large a share of our market already, and our supermarkets are excellent, we don’t need another one.

Having had awful experience of on-line food shopping I wouldn’t even try it. Iceland and Asda never deliver the products you ask for and substitute with something inferior.

Strange to see no mention of the only other comparable online-only grocery company which comes near to the new Amazon food service, namely Ocado offering some 40,000 items against Amazon’s (admittedly initial offering) of 4,000.

In addition to using Tesco and Sainsbury online from their first appearance, I have used Ocado on a weekly basis since it started operating some years ago. With one-hour slots, excellent website and invoicing, and first rate service by their customer support and delivery staff, I doubt Amazon will ever match for me this level of satisfaction.

In this new century, and after a lifetime of the tedious business of shopping in-store with all that entails in time/transport costs etc, I am also totally pleased to leave the humping of my shopping to the kitchen table to others.

And Amazon? Since its arrival some fifteen years ago, this company, for me, has been an unrivalled and superb information source, as well as a near-perfect supplier, fulfilling my books music and movie requirements. I count my blessings that it is available 24/7.

Some years ago, before I retired, I worked for a company that set a new benchmark for the distribution of computer software and hardware. The norm previously had been, if it is in stock then delivery would be 7 to 10 days, if it had to be brought in from the USA then 6-8 weeks was normal. We set the benchmark to next day for stock and 2-3 days from the USA. The effect was that some of our competition went bust the others picked up their game.
Amazon has set new benchmarks, the competition needs to pick up their game.

As for shopping for groceries online I don’t now and don’t expect to with Amazon although it would probably be easy as my regular weekly shop varies very little but it is those little variations that are often on impulse that makes shopping more interesting.

As for tax avoidance and employment practice, change the rules don’t beat-up the people that obey them.

As for tax avoidance and employment practice, change the rules …
I’m sure that you’ll get at least an OBE if you can slip this one to Mr O.
Is that why you’ve not told us your secret?

Gissa Clue

” … don’t beat-up the people that obey them. ”
I was only carrying out orders, Guv [ ? ? ] Now, where did I hear that
Ahh. Yes, Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures.
[ … en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment ]

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Providing “rules” for e.g. tax, employment means they should be enforced. If those rules are deficient then I do not see how you can deal with “tax avoidance”, for example, as legally it is allowable. As Bob Robinson says, you have to then change the rules. I personally will only pay the tax I am required to pay; if there are ways to avoid (as opposed to evade) tax – ISAs for example, using part of your spouse’s allowance for example – then I will do so.

The problem with corporate tax seems to me – please correct me – to be down to the different ways EU countries treat business taxation. Presumably they compete to attract business. If a company is set up to legally route most of its revenue through an accommodating European state to reduce its tax bill then I cannot blame it. Its shareholders would demand it. A one-man business would make use of it. If it is legal.

We might (I certainly do) disagree with the loss of tax but it is the system that allows the loss that is to blame and the EU should sort out a unified approach to taxation – or change the law. I suppose other offshore states would step into the breach then?

Whilst I can follow your argument perhaps we should consider the shareholders [voters] in UK plc. where the Directors seem positively stupid in actually providing bonuses and incentives to attract a non-tax paying parasite. What is laughable is the number of jobs bought for the money compared to the number who become unemployed elsewhere in the UK. And of course Amazon has bought a robotics company and I bet you can guess what they want to replace.

” Amazon is also not just a single firm. Aside from its own internal divisions (which allow its boss Jeff Bezos to switch profits to loss-making sections as part of the tax avoidance strategy) Amazon allows other retailers to offer their products for sale on their websites through its Marketplace scheme. This is clever monopolist move. It increases turnover and leaves the rivals to deal with the various orders for low-demand products which Amazon does not want to fill its shelves with. It also means Amazon get to police their rivals’ pricing. They can then charge less (check it out for yourself on their site) and over time they ultimately destroy the sales of their smaller rivals. One Devon bookseller interviewed on the BBC’s Panorama programme recently said that he got virtually nothing in sales from being on Amazon. The French Booksellers Association reckons that 18 times more people are employed by bookshops in like for like selling compared to Amazon whilst the American Booksellers Association reckoned that 42,000 jobs in retailing were lost in 2012 alone due to Amazon. According to them every $10 million of Amazon turnover represent 33 jobs in local bookshops. Amazon is doing for retail generally what the supermarkets did for the high street and corner shop three decades back. The Amazon claim is that it creates jobs but this does not stand up to examination
The Amazon model has been commented on by many although none in more detail than Jean-Baptiste Malet:
Irrespective of their location, Amazon’s distribution centres have similar architecture and working practices. They are near motorway junctions in areas where the unemployment rate is above the national average and assiduously surveilled [sic] by security firms. The giant metal boxes sometimes extend over more than 100,000 square metres, nearly 14 football pitches. Trucks come and go constantly: every three minutes Amazon fills an articulated lorry with packages. In the US, the company sold 300 items every second during the 2012 Christmas season.[2]
Let’s start with the location of warehouses in areas of higher unemployment. This is critical to all Amazon’s operations. Not only do they have a pool of desperate people to pick from, they can also auction their arrival to local authorities. Amazon just ask what incentives they can be offered to locate warehouses in this or that area. Local authorities desperate for headline good news which they can use to their political advantage (“new jobs created”) will do almost anything to fall over to get Amazon retail centres. In Swansea the Welsh Assembly agreed to build a new road to the warehouse at a cost of £4.9 million. In Bad Hersfeld near Frankfurt the same thing happened (similar cost to the local government at €7 million) with the addition that the road has been called “Amazon Strasse”.[3] In France the Socialist-run Government, the Burgundy regional government and the department of Saone-et-Loire have all given Amazon subsidies. Burgundy region gave €1.125 m for Amazon to employ 250 people on open-ended contracts thus paying for Amazon’s selection process. Opening the facility in Swansea, First Minister Rhodri Morgan gave us the predictable soundbites.
“Amazon is an iconic global company right at the forefront of the e-economy.
“Amazon is one of only a handful of truly world brands that have emerged since the internet changed the way we live our lives.
“This is one of the biggest investments announced in Wales since devolution began nine years ago.
“It is a powerful shot in the arm for the Welsh economy and the Swansea Bay area in particular.
“I am proud of the role that the Assembly Government has played in attracting Amazon to Wales.”[4]
The Nationalist government in Scotland bent over even further to get Amazon to locate two warehouses there. At least £3 million in grants has been handed out to create the Dunfermline warehouse which is the biggest in the UK. There is some debate about the total incentive package but it is thought to be in the region of £10 million when the second warehouse is set up. This could yet turn out to be an own goal for the SNP. As well as the well-documented nature of work at Amazon there are also powerful voices being raised about the overall economic impact of Amazon on employment in Scotland. ”

SO there you are divide and conquer both the politicians free with the money and the public some who will do anything for a cheaper product even if it is to the detriment of the society of which they are part.

Brian says:
7 December 2015

Amazon promise service with Sale. They respond and run asap. Whenever you buy through Amazon know they use purchasing power (you & me) to get a lower price. NO service! Amazon get their percentage and grip that. The product provider has minimal profit crucifying service. SO, Amazon is great for price and liars about service. NIL back-up at Amazon.

Pat Hugh says:
12 December 2015

Don’t care how good their food or service is. I pay a lot of tax on my income. What they do may be legal but is it moral? I will not use them.

I cannot say that I dont use them nor can I say that I wont use them but I can say I am a heavy on line shopper and Amazon have not had many orders from me.
I watched a bit of TV some time back on them and I was not amused nor am I amused at the idea that I paid more tax than Amazon who are a massive company/companies
They treat their workers like s**t and they think they are beyond reproach. A bit like modern democratic Governments who are I suppose the watchdog of today’s world and the likes of Amazon. I suppose one cannot stand in the glasshouse and throw stones so Amazon will most likely continue as is.
They’ll not be going far on what I spend with them I’ll tell you that

I would not do food shopping with amazon while I draw breath thank you very much. I would
like to see what I pick not what some one thinks will do
Rj surrey