Having launched in the US almost two years ago, Amazon Pantry came to the UK in November 2015. Available exclusively to Amazon Prime members, the service allows customers to fill their virtual box with over 4,000 branded household items - from Heinz beans to Nescafe coffee - and have them delivered next day for £2.99.
We recently put Amazon Pantry to the test, to find out how Amazon's foray into the grocery market compares with the competition.
A compelling way to shop but novelty soon wears off
Very much like any online grocery experience, products are grouped into categories and sub-categories. After locating the cereals and snack bars, I opted for a box of Nature Valley breakfast bars. With the bars virtually filling a mere 1.4% of the pantry box, I was compelled to fill the box and found myself being inadvertently influenced to buy more products. Of course this method of shopping quickly lost its novelty when I realised I had added over £90 worth of various crisp and snack varieties in a bid to fill my box! As implied by its name, only pantry-type products are available via the service. As well as breadth, the depth within categories is limited. This was particularly evident when selecting filter options – given the limited choice of products, it is unnecessary to include filters where fewer than 10 products exist.
Perhaps maths isn’t Amazon’s strongest subject?
Amazon is renowned for having one of the most intelligent systems in the online world – generating relevant and targeted content via impressively complex algorithms. Though it appears that Amazon fell short of this in its Pantry solution. As I entered the drinks category, I stumbled across Pepsi multipacks of 12 – the only difference is that one was Pepsi and the other Pepsi Max. However you’ll notice that these identically sized products show to fill different percentages but with no explanation as to why.
T-1 days to delivery
16 items and £39.90 later, I was all ready to checkout. And the process was very much in line with the general Amazon checkout, so easy to navigate through checkout and complete the order. Plus the delivery guarantee gave me peace of mind that my order would arrive on time.
On time, not full, but a pain to manoeuvre!
My Pantry order arrived on time (though with such high expectations of Amazon and a strong image to uphold, I would be disappointed if this was not the case!). Weight-wise the box was manageable, weighing in at approximately 10kg. However, the sheer size and the method of packing meant that it was awkward to carry – there were no built-in handles to make carrying the hefty package any easier and heavy bottles had been distributed to one side of the package. This seems to contradict the accessibility and convenience that Amazon otherwise portrays in its service – and also the delivery-to-fridge door service offered by grocery retailers, such as Ocado.
The big reveal!
I eagerly opened the package to find items neatly packaged and stacked in various compartments of the box. Unlike many grocery orders, it was a pleasant surprise to see all items ordered were available, with no substitute items. Delicate items, such as wine, were conveniently packaged within individual boxes.
Our survey says…
Amazon Pantry is a novel experience but perhaps not one I’ll be repeating in the immediate future. The absence of fresh grocery products would result in having to shop elsewhere for essentials, and the existing breadth of grocery products isn’t all that great either. It's easy to understand why the Amazon Pantry service is available only to Prime members, as Amazon are likely making a loss on delivery costs alone – let alone the large box and protective packaging. But it will certainly be interesting to see how the Amazon Pantry service evolves over time, and to see whether it can take on the big UK grocery retailers.