Did you guys see the news last week that Amazon Fresh is now FREE with Amazon Prime?
The game has been completely changed.
I’m going to talk as a busy mom first, business reporter (former!) second, and a concerned citizen of the world third. (Imagine this like those old Frosted Mini-Wheat commercials.)
Mom me: Grocery delivery as it’s been done so far has been unsatisfying for a lot of reasons. Services like Postmates are expensive and annoying because people keep calling you to ask about substitutes. Services like Safeway.com are annoying because they can’t deliver the same day and the software feels like it’s from the 1970s. Instacart is annoying (or was last time I used it) because you have to go store-by-store.
My kids like some things that can ONLY be ordered from Safeway. For other things I prefer Whole Foods or small local markets like Gus’s. Or I need pet food from Petco.
I tried Jet, but the box overload was insane and, again, the inventory was limited. I could go on, but in short, nothing has worked as well as advertised.
Enter Amazon Fresh (for free!): I must have got $150 in groceries for $90. Not only are the prices the lowest you’ll find, but the free delivery means you aren’t getting an extra arbitrary $20 charge. And more than that: It has ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING. I giddily spent an hour entering every obscure brand my kids and I like and the only thing I couldn’t find was Maldon Flakey Sea Salt.
And—unlike all those other services—they reliably deliver on a window you pick, same day. I ordered at noon and got my groceries in the evening. I forgot something and ordered again and it was sitting outside my door this morning. It was like grocery fairies.
I genuinely feel like I never have to be out of ANYTHING again, without planning ahead, and without paying a premium. I don’t know how anyone ever improves on that.
Former business reporter me: Amazon has finally put together all the pieces it’s been building for a decade—Prime + Whole Foods acquisition + same day delivery—to finally become the long-threatened digital Wal-Mart. This is why Wal-Mart spent billions on Jet.com. It knew this was coming, and now it’s here.
I don’t see how Instacart survives. And long term, does Postmates? Amazon could buy GrubHub, and it’s game over in all delivery. They can deliver meal kits via Whole Foods partnerships, so that category could be endangered too. That’s no small thing as meal prep and food delivery were the single most heavily bet-on sector in the on-demand world in terms of numbers of companies created. (Also, I’ve been predicted this at Pando since 2016, but even I am blown away at the end game execution here.)
Concerned citizen of the world me: The mom me may hate me for saying this, but this is why tech companies are increasingly coming under antitrust scrutiny. And, really, for the sake of the world, they should be.
Amazon is doing to groceries what Netflix has done to Hollywood, and no one else can compete because of the sheer scale, synergies and cash coming from other dominant businesses run under the same brand.
I’m uncomfortable how much we rely on Amazon when it comes to our business (AWS), our entertainment options (my kids’ entire movie collection has been bought on Prime), and the basic running of our household. I cannot think of a single company we rely on more. My experience is always amazing. I am a lobster being slowly boiled in a stew of Amazon.
That’s an awful lot of faith that this company isn’t/won’t become evil. We think Facebook has tanked democracy? Look at the power that Amazon has. Every scandal Wal-Mart faced over the years drove small mom-and-pop shops out of American main streets, and it could get far worse under this Amazon regime.
It’s literally so good, it’s scary.
If you have these same internal battles, I’m curious how you resolve them. I’m planning on mostly getting staples from Amazon, but still going to my locally owned markets for good bread, good meat when we eat it, produce, and wine.
Is that enough?
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How much compunction do you feel to shop locally when it comes to groceries?
- Help with enmeshed sibling relationship–anyone else experience this?