2020 marks the year that online grocery shopping will cement its place in global commerce.
Online retail has already been on an upward swing, with 69% of Americans shopping online [and predictions estimated to rise to 91% or 300 million Americans by 2023].
Amazon Fresh Vs. Amazon Pantry
Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry are two different services with different benefits for customers. We go into the differences in depth below.
What is Amazon Fresh?
Amazon Fresh is a digital grocery service like Amazon that lets Amazon Prime members purchase fresh produce, perishable items and other similar items from select local grocery stores and Whole Foods branches. Customers have the option of having purchases delivered to their residence or picking it up from the store.
There are over 2,000 cities that have access to Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods, and most of these are high-population areas that could offer widespread exposure to a potential Amazon supplier and its products.
What is Amazon Pantry?
Amazon Pantry, formerly known as Prime Pantry, is a service that allows Amazon Prime members to purchase non-perishable goods, household items, and bulk goods without high minimums or shipping fees. Unlike Amazon Fresh, Amazon Pantry does not have its own site but instead exists within the standard Amazon.com shopping environment.
According to a statement from Amazon, Amazon Pantry gives Amazon the ability to “expand its selection and offer thousands of items to Prime members that are cost-prohibitive to ship individually.”
Membership Requirements and Cost
Amazon Fresh is free for Amazon Prime members. Access to Amazon Fresh is currently by invitation only, although customers can apply for access if they live in a location where Amazon Fresh operates.
Amazon Pantry does not charge a monthly fee for access. Rather, Amazon charges a flat shipping fee of $5.99 on orders below $35. Orders above $35 are shipped for free. Amazon Fresh members are automatically enrolled in Amazon Pantry program.
Amazon Fresh offers over 500,000 items in the following categories:
- Food: Produce, dairy, meats, seafood, breads, beverages, snacks, and prepared foods.
- Local and seasonal: Locally-grown produce, honey, and dairy.
- Personal care: Cosmetics, hygiene products, baby products, skin care, toiletries.
Amazon Pantry items are sold separately from other products in the Amazon store and come in the following categories:
- Food: Non-perishable groceries, canned goods, snacks, beverages, and breakfast items.
- Cleaning & Home: Laundry, household cleaning, dishwashing, food storage, pet supplies, & office supplies.
- Amazon Pantry products can be purchased either in single-serve amounts or in bulk.
Delivery & Pickup
Amazon Fresh offers both delivery and curbside pickup. Eligibility for same-day or next-day service depends on the time of the day in which the order was made and delivery times for the area.
If the customer is not able to receive the delivery in person, perishable orders like meat and dairy can be shipped in reusable temperature-controlled packaging with ice packs to maximize freshness. Customers can return the packaging at the time of their next order.
Amazon has also partnered with the USPS to increase the delivery area by allowing orders to be dropped off at specified USPS locations within a service area and delivered from there to a customer’s doorstep.
Amazon Pantry products are delivered using ground shipping due to air shipping restrictions on certain products. Most orders arrive within 4 business days and cannot be shipped to the following locations:
- PO Boxes
- Amazon Hub Lockers
- Addresses outside of the contiguous United States (including Hawaii and Alaska).
The Impact of COVID-19 on AmazonFresh & Prime Pantry
You can’t talk about online groceries and ecommerce in 2020 without talking about COVID-19 and social distancing.
As of May 2020, the coronavirus has infected over 1.3 million Americans and forced states to institute quarantine and social distancing measures. Grocery stores all over the country are experiencing long lines even to enter the store, and instituting limits on how many shoppers are allowed in the store at any given time.
These changes have prompted many shoppers to turn to online retailers and grocery stores, including Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry. According to Statista, 21% of US shoppers have moved to online groceries as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. When you combine that with the 26% of shoppers who were already online shoppers, that makes for a whopping 47% of shoppers now getting their groceries online.
The demand is clearly there, but that now leads to a different problem: fulfillment. Amazon has been receiving so many orders that it is having trouble keeping up. Shoppers have experienced delays of up to a month. Part of the delay is because the company has decided to prioritize essential items like household staples and medical supplies.
Fortunately, many of the products offered by Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry qualify as priority items, so customers should only be experiencing limited-service delays or interruptions.
Should Retailers Sell on Amazon Fresh or Amazon Pantry?
In the past, consumers would buy from online groceries for the convenience and flexibility that such a service affords. Now, however, consumers are shopping online for reasons of personal health and public safety. Amazon is at the forefront of this push and will continue to be so for the near future.
How to Sell on Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry
As of this writing, Amazon Fresh is closed to third-party sellers, and are included in the program on an invite-only basis. However, brands carried by Whole Foods are eligible for entry, since Amazon Fresh offers Whole Foods products in its lineup.
Only Amazon Vendor Central users are currently allowed to sell in the Amazon Pantry program. Amazon vendors can list their products on Vendor Central and can request to be included in Amazon Pantry once the product gains a higher amount of sales. Requests are reviewed by Amazon vendor managers.
As of March 2019, AmazonFresh ASINs (and Prime Pantry) can now be promoted using Sponsored Products, making it easier for shoppers to find your shelf-stable, refrigerated, and frozen products.