Amazon has a sweet deal for consumers: Free food delivery from Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh for members of Amazon’s $119 yearly Prime expedited shipping and entertainment service.
Amazon had been charging $14.99 monthly for the service. Rival Walmart touts an annual fee of $98, while Target, via the Shipt app, charges $14 on an a la carte monthly charge, or $99 yearly for memberships.
But to get the great Amazon deal for free one- to two-hour food delivery, there’s a catch. A big one.
Free delivery, as of today, is available only to Prime members who have ordered food delivery in the past. Others need to request an invitation, a process that can take some time.
We requested an invitation for the Echo Auto device that brings Alexa to the car with our personal account when it was first unveiled in September 2018. It came through 11 months later.
The Echo Loop, a ring that answers to Alexa, was announced on Sept. 25, 2019, as an invitation only. We put in the request for this one as well, under a personal account, but have yet to be invited in.
Stephenie Landry, Amazon’s vice-president of Grocery Delivery, would say only that she hopes to bring in customers “as quickly as possible” but wouldn’t offer any specifics on how speedy that will be.
She added that grocery delivery is now one of the “fastest-growing businesses” at Amazon, and she predicted that along with shipping and entertainment, free food delivery will become one of Prime’s most popular items.
Amazon isn’t as known for food ordering as it is for buying devices, books and household goods via its e-commerce system. It is testing small, 7-Eleven type Go stores in Seattle and other cities that use an app-based system to pay. Landry says Fresh’s offerings are comparable to a full-size local retail supermarket.
The service is available in more than 2,000 cities, and Amazon says the one- to two-hour delivery is guaranteed in “most” cities Fresh and Whole Foods operate in. “We’ll continue expanding ultrafast speeds to all cities where the service is available,” Amazon said.