Life changing y’all. Life changing. This whole, groceries delivered to my door so I don’t have to go shopping has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. For the most part, I’ve been using Tom Thumb delivery service and I’ve been mostly happy with it. (See my review here.) A few weeks ago when Tom Thumb didn’t deliver the dog food that I desperately needed, I gave Amazon Fresh a go since I knew they had same-day delivery windows.
For the most part, I like it. However, there are some distinct differences between the two so I actually find myself using both to serve our family’s needs. Okay, wants. I really want a perfect delivery service and neither are perfect so I’m piecing it together – but it’s not without frustrations.
Let’s talk price first. For Tom Thumb delivery, you pay a flat delivery fee no matter the size of the order, however, you can get a discount on that fee if you choose a wider window for them to bring it to you. For example, if you choose “green delivery” with a 4-hour window, you can get a savings of $6. If you chose a 2 hour delivery window, you can save $3. I work from home so this is accommodating – except when they show up an hour early and I’m at a meeting. For Amazon Fresh, you pay an additional $14.95 a month on your Prime Membership (cancel anytime) and there is no delivery fee for orders totaling $40 or more. Amazon has me trained through my Amazon Prime membership that it doesn’t matter the size of my order, I get free shipping so already I’m annoyed that I have to create a $40 basket everytime. Yes, I know that’s unreasonable. I’m not paying the $9.99 delivery fee for smaller baskets so that’s the way the game is played.
What I like about Amazon Fresh is the immediacy of it. I can actually schedule a same-day delivery. Or even better, I can place an order at 10 p.m. at night from my phone while laying in bed when I realize that we are out of milk for the morning. With Amazon Fresh, I can have a delivery window of 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., which is great, except it’s usually at 7:50 when mine arrives which is too late for the Cupcake’s breakfast cereal. Also, I have actually found that for Amazon Fresh, the organics are really reasonably priced in comparison to regular produce. I know this because I now keep two browser windows open to load my carts up with Tom Thumb and Amazon Fresh. Ridiculous? I dunno, that way I am able to compare prices super easily and where some items are not available right away with Amazon Fresh, they may be with Tom Thumb. (And, I actually like the value of some of the Tom Thumb house brand products.) Right, so you clued in on a major hazard with Amazon Fresh — not ALL of Amazon Fresh items are available same day, or at times, even next day. Some are only available on weekends. And if you try and order for same day delivery, they’ll drop them out of your cart. Or, you can put all those on a separate order for 2 days out or whenever, except then you’re back to the $40 basket minimum thing again and there’s no way to really keep a running basket on Amazon Fresh for those items exclusively (as you can “save for later” on your regular Amazon shopping).
I learned a few other things too. Here are my pros and cons of this grocery service.
Pros of Amazon Fresh:
- Like I mentioned before, same day delivery windows are a reality and my on-demand, instant gratification self loves this.
- You can choose from attended delivery or unattended delivery where they leave the order on your doorstep, which I choose every single stinkin’ time. All your refrigerated items come packed in ice packs or dry ice in mylar bags. They used to use these big green coolers that you would set out for them to pick up on your next order. While I preferred that for receiving my order, I wasn’t so keen on keeping those monsters around for return so at least this is all recyclable.
- There’s a variety of products that my local store doesn’t carry, and some are more “artisian” in nature, specially curated from local suppliers. If you like to sample new things, this is pretty cool.
- The shopping interface is quick and easy to navigate, (I’ve already been trained with Amazon Prime ordering). You can also access previous items ordered.
- When they screw up an order (and they will, I promise), you CAN actually talk with someone if you like. Or you can email. I have found that they are courteous and make it right with refunds and promotional credits.
Cons of Amazon Fresh:
- Out of stocks – It seems as though as soon as I fall in love with something new that I discovered on Amazon Fresh, it’s permanently sold out when I go to reorder. This is disappointing. I really wanted to keep ordering those cold brew coffees for my on-the-go afternoons.
- Random delivery drivers – with Tom Thumb delivery, I’ve gotten to recognize certain delivery folks and I like that. Amazon Fresh has random taxi drivers and such delivering, which I guess since I have them leave it on my porch, it’s not that big of a deal. The bags are sealed so you would know if they’ve been tampered with.
- The packaging – As I mentioned above, when I started ordering from Amazon Fresh, they delivered cold items in bright green sturdy coolers. I even used one to go to the arboretum one afternoon. I guess Amazon Fresh either wasn’t getting them returned or they were too expensive because one day, everything was delivered in brown shopping bags, minus the protective green outer thermal carrier. Initially I thought, geez, what a waste of resources, but then, a day later, I got a message with detailed instructions on how to recycle every-bit of the packaging. That made me feel better about using it but I have to tell you, letting the gel packs completely melt so that I can then slicing them open to squeeze whatever that is into the trash bag which will likely leak everywhere, just so I can recycle the plastic probably won’t happen. I mean, let’s be real. It doesn’t happen and probably won’t ever. I’m not going through that mess. If I can’t recycle the gel, I don’t think I want to handle it either. AND… the handles on the bags rip because they aren’t sturdy enough to hold the weight of refrigerated items AND the gel packs. Personally, I’d rather deal with the green cube coolers.
- No recipes – I do like the fact that I can go on Tom Thumb and do meal planning WHILE shopping for groceries. They make it so easy to add everything to my cart. With Amazon Fresh, I have to do meal planning separately and there’s no “add ingredients to cart” button for me to push so I find myself wading through the meal kits (but yay, they have Martha Stewart meal kits but boooo, they are pricey). Yes I know this is a first-world problem, but it’s lacking the efficiency that I crave. I used Amazon as a time-saver, and this creates an additional step for me. It’s so anti-amazon to make work for me, lol.
- They screw up. Yep, they screw up. They sure do. Like when they dropped off all my cold pack items on my porch in 86 degree heat with no ice packs. Yeah, I hated to throw out all that meat. And they leave things out of the order. So, not perfect.
- Not available everywhere yet. I was telling my BFF about it and she doesn’t have Amazon Fresh in her area. Bummer, because we like to bond over food.
Overall, I have grown to depend on grocery delivery – it’s like my fairy godmother was listening and given all of us busy mom’s one of our greatest wishes. While I absolutely love the variety and the immediacy of Amazon Fresh, not to mention the organics prices, the inconsistency with product availability, packaging, delivery, and no meal planning interface make it more challenging to work with. Until they improve on their product selections, I don’t think I could JUST use Amazon Fresh for our family groceries but I do like it as a supplement to Tom Thumb. There are still better bargains from my local store, and brands that we’re loyal to that we can’t find on Fresh so for now, I’m a two browser shopper. I’ll try Amazon Fresh for a few more weeks but then I think it will become an extravagance that I can live without.
Do you use a grocery delivery service? Which one and what do you love or hate about it?