Is the Internet about to change the way we buy groceries? I am still amazed that I can sit down at a computer keyboard and with a few key strokes have a pizza show up at my door 30 minutes later. Most people thought it was a crazy notion that the masses would end up ditching their local bookstore to buy books online. Despite his prior accomplishments, Jeff Bezos may be on the verge of pulling off one his most amazing tricks yet - making your local grocery store disappear. OK, that is a good line for an article but maybe groceries won't completely disappear, but... I believe that many will. I am also convinced that large box grocery stores will soon be a thing of the past. Why? A new service called Amazon Prime Pantry.
The idea of Amazon selling groceries is not new, but Prime Pantry takes online grocery buying from novelty to reality. Buying grocery items on Amazon has historically been more than a bit clunky. Even if you were a Prime member (free shipping, free movie library, and eBook lending - cost $99 per year) you had to buy most items in bulk and everyday sizes were generally not available. So, if you needed just one can of tuna, you were forced to buy a package of eight. This was still OK, but was just not convenient (and not like shopping at the grocery store). I have never been one to go to those discount clubs and buy the 40 gallon barrel of Ketchup because the per ounce price was irresistible. If I am going to buy my groceries online I want to do so just like I shop at my local store. If I need a single can of black beans, I don't want to buy a box of twelve. Now I can shop online just like I would locally...
Fill up a virtual box of items for one flat shipping cost
Amazon Prime members in the 48 contiguous U.S. states can access the new Prime Pantry Service, fill up a 45 pound box of groceries, and have it delivered to their door for $5.99. What? This is amazing, and if you hate grocery shopping you are going to absolutely love this service. As you shop, you are alerted as to how full your virtual box is (there is no requirement to completely fill the box).
I have looked at the prices and they seem very much along the lines of those at my local grocery store. Even if some of the items were a bit more pricey, I would probably still use it simply for convenience. The busy executive will certainly be one consumer of a service like this, but consider other significant markets. People with toddlers (yes, no more mommy buy me one more toy or piece of candy meltdowns), elderly and physically challenged individuals, those that live in rural areas, the list is long...
For me, I will love the convenience of meal planning at my computer and not trying to do so while pushing a cart. I also think that shopping this way will ultimately save most people money as it will cut out the impulse buying that always takes place at the grocery store. It will also be very easy to compare prices of similar products the same way that we do when we buy other products online.
What about meat and fresh produce?
Amazon Fresh is already operating in California and Washington state. The service offers same day delivery of fresh groceries to your door. I can't wait for that to come to Florida, but for now I am thrilled to be able to buy my staples and sundries with Prime Pantry.
Grocery stores of the future...
We saw the small neighborhood grocery stores disappear when Wal-Mart came to town. The notion of giant box grocery stores may simply go the way of the dinosaur. If the idea of buying groceries online catches on, there would likely be less grocery stores and they would be much smaller. Those that remain might convert to distribution centers offering competing home delivery services similar to Amazon. Others may follow in the footsteps of Best Buy and become much smaller and offer a more limited selection of items.
A couple more points I should add; there seems to be a nice mechanism the allows for the use of coupons with a single click. I don't know much about this feature, but anything that makes using coupons easier is a big bonus to all of this. I also did not see any buy one get one free deals or other such offers (deals that I routinely look for at my local store), but that may be coming down the road.
The Internet has changed just about everything in our lives, now we are about to see it change the way we buy groceries. I am very interested in your thoughts on this new service. Would you use it? Do you think it will catch on? How do you see this impacting local grocery stores?
Helping you make the most of God’s money!