/ Money, Shopping

Would you buy your food on Amazon?

Thanks to online shopping, you can now buy pretty much everything you want without stepping out of your front door. But could you one day buy everything you need without even clicking out of one website?

That was the thought that occurred to me when I read about Amazon’s new service, Amazon Fresh. It offers you the chance to do your weekly food shop and have it delivered in one-hour time slots seven days a week between 7am and 11pm, including same-day delivery.

You have to be an Amazon Prime member and will also have to pay an extra £6.99 a month.

It has launched in 69 London postcodes but will presumably roll out if it’s successful. But would you use it?

Online shopping

Over the years, I’ve used Amazon to buy a huge range of stuff from the usual books and CDs to electric toothbrushes, shoe polish and even Disney dresses (for nieces, not myself I hasten to add). It has often been a last-minute lifesaver when I needed a present in a hurry.

And Which? members seem to find the online retail giant equally useful. In fact, it came 8th out of 100 online shops in our most recent survey of online shops in November. Even changes to its delivery charges didn’t stop it receiving an excellent customer score of 82%. But would you buy food from it?

Doing the weekly shop online

An increasing number of us are voting with our wallets and having our groceries delivered rather than enduring the queues at a bricks-and-mortar supermarket.

This year, it’s expected that we’ll spend £9.8 billion on online groceries, according to market analysts, Mintel. Up 13% on last year. And it’s hard to see any reason why that trend will be reversed any time soon.

But would you be happy to buy your food from Amazon? In our survey of online shops, it was often praised for delivering ahead of schedule. And you will be able to access 130,000 fresh and frozen grocery items including big brands and Morrison products.

Or would you rather rely on a more traditional food retailer? After all, with a traditional supermarket, you could argue that its online presence is only an extension of the service that you already get instore.

Would you be happy to order your food from Amazon? And would you be happy to pay the amount it’s planning to charge?

Would you be happy to buy your groceries on Amazon?

No (60%, 517 Votes)

Not sure (21%, 185 Votes)

Yes (19%, 164 Votes)

Total Voters: 866

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As we have moved from High Street shops to online purchasing of many items, and as this has already become established for food (and Ocado was not a food retailer when they started) I see it quite logical for Amazon to expect a large market as an add-on to their existing operation. whether it succeeds will depend upon its pricing, quality and service.

We can worry about whether a single company becomes too dominant in the marketplace. Tesco has a huge non-food online business as well as food so it is not new, and they have shown that size is not the main factor, management is. You cannot stop this sort of operation unless a monopoly situation begins to emerge.

I won’t use them though; I prefer looking at food in the flesh and making choices in a food store I regard as of good quality. I’m sure many who find online convenient, or who cannot get out, will benefit from Amazon’s offering.

I very rarely divert from books and music in buying from Amazon although we did buy a TV once and have occasionally bought oddities that I just could not find elsewhere. I enjoy the challenge of finding the remainder of my requirements in our usual shopping places or from bricks-&-mortar retailers that have an on-line presence. We prefer to buy fresh food in-store but have also learnt what we can trust Sainsbury’s to deliver satisfactorily. Probably less than half of our regular groceries and provisions purchases are fresh food items but we would continue to patronise Sainsbury’s for the packaged food, toiletries, and household categories because we prefer their products and setting up a delivery is quick, easy and usually free of charge. I also have a sense of knowing the people who pick our orders in Sainsbury’s because we meet them in the store so they also know us. I don’t think Amazon will be able to match that somehow. It will be interesting to see how well Amazon compete on price and service; for many people those will be the deciding factors.

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Generally I agree with you Duncan but Amazon might have calculated that the religious guidance on certain foods and methods of preparation plus the preferences of various nationalities could actually give them a commercial edge. Many people of the faiths you mention now live some way away from their traditional residential areas and are therefore not able to buy the products they require in local shops and supermarkets. Some nationalities are catered for by the bigger supermarkets but most areas now have pockets of other nationalities but no outlets to serve them. Buying on-line from Amazon [possibly in their own languages] could be the answer to their prayers in some cases and solve the problem for the others. There is a whole aisle of Polish foodstuffs in our nearest large Tesco but nothing special for all the other minority populations [except in the drinks department].

The answer to the question is NO


” It has launched in 69 London postcodes but will presumably roll out if it’s successful.”

I suspect strongly that it will not be rolled out nationally ever. It is basic cherry-picking of an area where your business nodel will make the most profit due to the high density of customers.

Having created the accpetable post code W1a 1AA I was able to browse. What was notable is the octopus like grip of Amazon. people tend to forget or be unaware of the power that conglomerates can have . The 1900’s US and the need for trustbusting legislation is a lesson from history.

Mass stifles competition and once dominance is achieved then pricing becomes less constrained. Rather than praising Amazon or publicising its offerings perhaps there should be a history lesson each month on Conversations about abuses of consumers. People need to be more aware that business and consumers are on the opposite sides of the equation. And a cheap price now may have adverse affects

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” But would you use it?”
No , never.

Are all those names you have listed subsidiaries of Amazon, Diesel?

Sure are! And an incomplete list at that.

I have no intention of using Amazon to buy food. I have been wary of the growth of Amazon and have experienced their lack of support for customers of their Marketplace traders. At present I buy I prefer to visit supermarkets and shops to buy food. While I have my health, the only thing likely to persuade me to shop online is introduction of piped music in supermarkets.

The big supermarkets have managed to wreck our high streets by selling everything a family could want and now that local shops and market stalls have disappeared they are gradually de-listing products from their inventory as well as driving up prices. Amazon has ruined the book and music trades, been the kiss of death for hardware shops, left little competition for electrical appliances, and plundered many other traditional markets. In every case choice and competition have been eroded and now it’s going to happen all over again with food. With such dominance a monopoly position must be approaching since it has a vice-like grip on the supply chain as well. The barriers to entry to compete against Amazon are now so enormous it would be impossible.

I agree with DieselTaylor that Amazon will cherry-pick its delivery postcodes on a demographic and logistical basis and marginal and provincial areas will be excluded while finding that alternative sources have closed. At the same time Amazon will exploit every opportunity for cross-selling to a new customer base further undermining town centre shopping. Nevertheless, I can see the appeal of this service to people who think they are far too busy to do their own shopping and will rave over the convenience of it. Regretfully I would expect it to succeed notwithstanding our objections.

What is so shocking is the assistance we have tax-payers given to an extraordinarily wealthy company.

Just Google Amazon , Wales, and grants for but one instance. The main point is that if you reduce jobs by closing down small businesses around the country and supply customers from a very leanly staffed warehouse you are in actuality exporting the cost of unemployment to the tax-payers as a whole.

Furthermore on a global scale companies like Amazon and Uber are taking the profit element abroad. This may seem a trivial point but in actual fact if 20% of a taxi fare disappears out of the country then that 20% is not going to be spent in the UK.

There are studies that shows the effect of spending within a community and the increased economic activity that results.

We need to consider seriously that aiding one type of vendor over others does have effects. Consider the huge amount of fuel spent on deliveries of single items – and the consequent pollution and wear and tear on the infrastructure. Perhaps a flat rate tax per delivery would make people more likely to think and consolidate orders, and also pick-ups of rejected goods.

That is just a spur of the moment example.

Lots of wealthy companies get government assistance to locate their operations here and to “create” jobs and export (in some cases). BMW (Mini), Honda, Nissan for example actually making things. If this assistance helps the economy and gets more people working is it bad for us – when they, like Amazon, could locate somewhere else in Europe?

I hope that no-one considers giving Amazon government assistance.

The Welsh already have I am afraid.:
” Amazon received a grant of £8.8 million towards the cost of the Swansea warehouse but also there was the construction of the Ffordd Amazon access road, with, according to Panorama, £4.9 million of Welsh Government funding. Amazon, a company that pays little or no tax in the UK, is being heavily subsidised by politicians of all mainstream parties in the different countries across the UK.”

And currently their very own interchange on a motorway paid for by the taxpayer:

” GMB has learned from local sources that the company will get a further grant of £17 million from the UK Government to build their new warehouse.
In January 2015 GMB held a public meeting in Ashford to put pressure on Amazon to come clean about the impact of the new Amazon warehouse planned for Sevington near the M20 in Kent which would use the new junction 10A. See notes to Editor for copy of previous GMB press release in January 2015.
GMB has been pressing that Amazon agrees to meet the full cost of between £66m and £90m for constructing a new junction 10A on the M20 in Ashford. The projected new junction is 700 metres south east of junction 10 and will allow access to the new Amazon warehouse.”

Malcolm-r – You need to look at the type of staffing a big supply warehouse needs. Off-hand and from what I have posted before I seem to recall it is a 40 to one job loss ratio. I promise you 400 low-paid jobs in South wales and 1600 disappear elsewhere in the UK.

Ah! But this is US statistics where shops are bigger
” Shops employ 47 people for every $10m in sales, according to research done by a company called ILSR. Amazon employs only 14 people per $10m of revenue. In Britain, it turned over £4.2bn last year, which is a net loss of 23,000 jobs. And even the remaining jobs, the hard, badly paid jobs in Amazon’s warehouses, are hardly future-proof. Amazon has just bought an automated sorting system called Kiva for $775m. How many retail jobs, of any description, will there be left in 10 years’ time?”

Whereas Nissan et al will be buying locally manufactured parts and employing in well-paid jobs most of Amazon’s will be just over minimum wage for a 10 hour shift. You can appreciate of course that if in the end we have a network of Amazon warehouses covering the country a huge amount of wealth will be departing off-shore and we will have masses of unemployed also.

I find it surprising that it is not self-evident where this is going.

As you say, Diesel, “Amazon . . . pays little or no tax in the UK“, – we pay it for them: it’s called VAT. We have a choice and can buy elsewhere.

And our VAT goes to paying for their competitive advantage [ their own interchange!!!] over existing UK shops.

You will no doubt appreciate the irony that by helping a company sell cheaply the government is also reducing the VAT it might collect from shops and the tax on the wages of the staff they employ.

Magical isn’t it. The government engineering in the destruction of its tax base. Of course we can choose where we buy but to expect the average customer to understand the longer term outcome is a bit rich.

We elect for Govts. to do the thinking long term for us and unfortunately politicians seem no brighter. Also we must consider the potential benefit for politicians in siding with big businesses with large Boards. Or indeed those which own important media outlets.

Put more forcefully from the US.
” The state is giving the Seattle-based online retailer $5 million in tax credits “to help lure” an Amazon office with 500 jobs to 7 W. 34th St. in Midtown Manhattan, Bloomberg News reports.
That $5 million is in addition to $2 million in New York state tax credits already awarded to Amazon for a Brooklyn fashion-photo studio. And it raises some issues that come up whenever government at any level decides to reward a business with special tax treatment.
The first is one of equity. Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, is worth about $28.8 billion, according to Bloomberg. Amazon’s market capitalization is about $144 billion. Why should individual New Yorkers who are worth less, or who work for smaller companies, pay the full tax rate, while Amazon gets a special discount?
What’s more, Amazon is in a competitive industry. Why should New Yorkers who own or work at Amazon competitors such as Barnes & Noble or small independent bookstores be taxed to support their business rival? Why should literary agents, publishers, and authors who increasingly fear Amazon’s market clout be taxed at full rates to subsidize Amazon?”

I understand you point, diesel, but if Amazon choose to locate their warehouse somewhere else – say Europe – and continue to develop their business here, as they will, those same jobs may disappear but with nothing to help offset them.

Valid point. However the answer is to legislate to restore a more normal market where local shops can generally compete on price. Taxation on deliveries and pick-ups would seem well targeted.

We also need to appreciate that the advances in the psychology of buying and selling are being deployed increasingly well and perhaps as a society we need to consider that the dice are being loaded against some buyers.

I can distinctly recall a pair who may have become senile but would daily have orders from the various shopping channel delivered, and then returned the next day or so. I have no idea as to the interior of their flat or their finances but I know the neighbours were very concerned.

I knew someone who going on-line in a drunken state ended up buying various large hunting knives. Money better spent on his children.

Is it that humans in their own homes are easy marks for sales as we lose the wariness we need when holding on to our money.

Well said dieseltaylor. It is becoming much too easy for people to buy goods online from large conglomerates whose main aim is to persuade you to part with your hard earned cash.

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Amazon, as its name implies (A member of a legendary race of female warriors believed by the ancient Greeks to exist in Scythia or elsewhere on the edge of the known world), or to put it in the words of the Cambridge Online Dictionary, “a strong or forceful woman”, represents everything I dislike in a monopolistic commercial sense and this most recent news of them venturing into the food market is reminiscent of the hedonistic perspective of a company that sees itself as being too big to fail.

I have ceased trading with Amazon since I fell into their well organised subterfuge, when ordering a book online from them. I requested their offer of next day delivery and it was duly delivered as promised. However, a couple of weeks later, to my surprise, my credit card bank statement arrived with a additional £79 Amazon transaction as, upon investigation, I had now become one of their Prime Members! It transpires somewhere in very small print in their T&C’s I have unwittingly become entangled in their opt out web of deception clause whereby you are offered a trial ‘free’ membership period, at the end of which, if you fail to opt out they add this onto your purchase. It tuned out to be a very expensive book!

In light of this, I would be very wary of ordering food from them in case items not asked for where added to and charged for without my knowledge. Any company that takes advantage of, once entrusted with my personal card details will henceforth lose my custom. So no, Amazon
and it’s strong and forceful women (or whatever their gender Malcolm!) can remain on the edge of the known world as far as I am concerned and I will continue to food shop at my nearest supermarket which happens to be Waitrose.

PS There also exists somewhere in the S. American rainforest, an Amazon green parrot which if you are not on your mettle, could nip you with its beak while you are not looking and then let out a characteristic Amazon green parrot chuckle! Sounds familiar?.

A number of people have fallen foul of that Prime offer, Beryl. They refunded anyone who complained about the tactic they used which was – for a short while – to make choosing the Prime trial the default option. It’s no longer done but I have to say that I’ve always regarded Prime as good value for money.

As Prime members we get free next day delivery on nearly all we order and in many cases same day delivery – additionally, we also get access to Prime Music with more tracks than I could ever listen to and their video, film and TV download/streaming service. I hate their tax policy but they are so good at what they do they’ve become almost my default choice especially as many of their suppliers also offer free delivery. That said I see no reason to do a food shop online. I last did one several years ago with Tesco and it almost took longer to find and order what I wanted (a weekly shop) than to visit my nearest Tesco. I also received odd substitutes and some very short sell/use by dates – so Amazon, yest to the rest but no to food.

The sharp practice employed by Amazon maybe OK for multiple purchasers. Personally, paying £85.99 for a £6.99 paperback is tantamount to theft by the back door, since I can listen to all the music I want, free on YouTube.com. The other items I bought from them were exactly the same price as John Lewis, but they happened to be out of stock at the time.

The presumptive practice of opting consumers into a company’s scheme without making it abundantly clear they will be charged for this unauthorised procedure is unethical and dishonest and should be outlawed. There was no indication on my account when ordering the goods of any extra charges, which I would have immediately questioned had there been,

This is Amazons way of ensuring consumers are locked into their shady circle of procurement, ensuring a monopolistic market domination over the retail trade. It’s high time the Monopoly Commission intervened to put an end to such shrewd and canny practice.

On the odd occasion when I food shop online, it has always been delivered promptly at a time of my choosing, free of charge by Waitrose, the only stipulation being a minimum order of £60 and as long as this reliable and dependable service continues. I will continue to buy my food from them.

What I am concerned about is getting large companies, e.g., Amazon to pay a fair rate of tax like the rest of us. Why is their tax not based on turnover in UK, rather than whether they can account for it in another country? After all, they are competing with other companies which do pay their tax.

All I can say is that in the regions Amazon are trialing it hope they do not expect people t subscribe to their ‘AMAZON PRIME’ to get free deliveries. At present that is the catch if you purchase something under £20 or pay a postage.

Subscribing to Prime is a pre-condition of having food deliveries from Amazon – plus a monthly charge of £6.99.

There are large rich ethnic communities in London who stay for portions of time who are incredibly price insensitive. Given the ability to tailor prices to who is purchasing is an existing technology* I would think super-profits are a possibility.

* It created a small furore about four years ago and whether it has been banned or still is in use I know not. Apple computer users were reckoned to pay more for goods AFAIR.

I do not buy any thing from Amazon until they pay a reasonable amount of UK tax!

If you need to pay to be a prime member plus £ 6.99/month, then it immediately renders itself uncompetitive. The big four have £1 delivery slots, so why bother with amazon on food? They will have to sacrifice their [ E.U. like ] coercive inclusivity for a competitive pricing structure.

David Bradshaw says:
18 June 2016

No The zero hours contract for delivery drivers is totally unfair. If there is no deliveries for your area you get sent home without pay. The pay you receive differs from what they say you wil get. If you have a company vehicle and you cause even slight damage it cost you £500 for the insurance, then they take it out of your pay in two lumps of £250, no pay for two weeks. You are registered with HMRC as employed PAYE but you are not eligible for sick pay, holiday pay, and there is no employee protection as in normal PAYE jobs.
The whole system is run by a sub contract employment group so Amazon are protected from any legal claims.
Just check it out before working for this disgraceful company.

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