/ Shopping

Amazon’s grocery service won’t be your one-stop shop

Plastic characters pushing shopping trolleys on laptop

Amazon has long veered off course, but its new venture into grocery shopping is perhaps a step too far. We’ve taken it for a spin and let’s just say, we don’t think Tesco will be running scared anytime soon.

So Amazon now offers groceries online. We thought we’d give it a go here at Which? with the hope that it’d be as easy as ordering a Michael Bublé CD (as a gift).

Hurrah, now you can stick Amazon in your favourites list, and job done, you’ll never have to buy anything from anywhere else ever again!

Or so I thought. It looks like Amazon hasn’t realised that in order to become the place for groceries, it needs to change its business model. I’m not that bothered if my CDs don’t turn up at the same time, but if my food arrives on different days I’m not going to be best pleased.

Who knows when your groceries will arrive

So spare a thought for 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!

The reason is simple. While some stuff can be bought direct from Amazon, a lot comes from third party sellers under the ‘Amazon Marketplace’ banner. A great opportunity for local producers, but not for the average shopper who just wants their groceries to arrive.

Plus, you can’t select a delivery time for your food shopping. So, short of becoming a prisoner in your own home, it’s a case of pot luck. Our tester wasn’t in on two occasions, so her parcels got sent back to the sorting office – and one of those had meat in it.

Delivery costs can spiral out of control

Items sold direct from Amazon can be delivered for free, but ordering from Marketplace sellers often incurs postage charges. At first you’d think this wasn’t much different from other online supermarkets, but when postage costs almost as much as your order (every seller sets their own rate) you’re in for a nasty shock.

Our tester’s postage totalled £60 on an order costing £74. No-one can consider that value for money, even if it’s definitely a unique ‘selling’ point.

Amazon’s grocery service does have some plus points. If you want to buy something a bit special, chances are it’ll be on the site. I found a particular brand of biscuit I love but hadn’t seen in shops in ages, so now I can enjoy them at the click of a button.

But I’ll be sticking to the established online supermarkets for my regular shop. I know Amazon might seem like the perfect one-stop shop, but variety is the spice of life after all. Particularly when, quite frankly, shopping elsewhere is much easier.


Silly boys

Who thought up this stupid idea at Amazon?
By any chance a young suit with no real idea of the working world?

A simple think tank consisting of real ordinary people would have identified all these issues.

Rosie Price-Smith says:
1 September 2010

Eight deliveries for one food order? It’s hard enough planning a time to be home for just one food shop a month! But I will be searching for those ‘special’ items that you can’t find in the supermarket, just out of interest…

I’m sure that Amazon have teething troubles – but their other on-line items are cheaper (including the postage) and have rapid delivery. What I hate in other on-line groceries I’ve tried is they very very often send second choices which I don’t want..

Somehow I think Amazon will overcome the limitations.