The Future of Amazon Fresh?

August 25, 2015
Patrick Miller
Written By
Patrick Miller

by Patrick Miller, Flywheel Digital

Last winter Amazon opened an FC a few miles from my house, near the port of Baltimore.  I figured we would soon be the next location for Amazon Fresh to roll out, but Fresh has yet to arrive.

Perhaps even better, Prime Now came to Baltimore and it’s saved me a from a bunch of trips to local big box stores.

Quick glossary:
  • Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s home grocery delivery service.  Green trucks delivering everything from veggies to higher velocity .com ASINs with an emphasis on locally-sourced fresh foods. 
  • Amazon Prime Now is an app and app only if you didn’t think Amazon is serious about mobile that allows shoppers to buy items from a local FC and have delivered for free if you can wait two hours or $7.99 for sub one hour delivery.

 

Instead of geeking out over the new product I went for a mountain bike ride.  But, 45 mins into the ride, when I was up on a ridge, knew I had cell coverage, and unable to resist, I decided to give it a try.  Once I clicked on the fresh food tile in the email I was brought to the traditional Prime Now interface.

IMG_4143-1Since this so early for Prime Now ASINs, the “Customers also bought” is weighted heavily to the early adopters and first movers of the vendor community (yes the ASIN could have been an old Fresh ASIN, but Fresh doesn’t have the automation & personalization of .com).  I found the interface clean and fast and adding items to my cart was easy.  However, because I was scrolling down a list, outside of the better together recommendations, it was hard to discover new items.  There are no aisles to walk down if you will.

An example of the first mover advantage below.  I purchased both the Sambazon Smoothie and the Pom Juice.  Today they are already showing up on the same page together.

 

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Also of interest, if I drop the Sambazon ASIN into .com search bar I get:

38461ba2-6d05-4128-b7d8-5b6410f99109

And into Fresh (also of note, same price on Fresh as on Prime Now; price on.com is a 3P so irrelevant):

502cf458-70ee-4271-b10a-e037e1805019

 

So same ASIN and same content across all three platforms and the chance for 3Ps to compete on the .com ASIN.  For Vendors this means Amazon is one step closer to creating a universal ASIN + integrating Fresh into VC.  This will make everyone’s lives easier.

Back to user experience.  After doing my shopping, I was able to get the 4-6 delivery slot, when I was ordering at 2:02 pm.  Of note, the app said the carrier could not leave the package at my door, Fresh + wine (though there is no shoppable alcohol on the site today there is a note re alcohol) have to be dropped off to a person.  With Maryland’s archaic alcohol laws, beer delivery might be a while, but we can hope for legislative competence one of these days.  Seattle’s Prime Now, which just launched allows alcohol to be deliveredI tapped through and continued on my ride.

IMG_4136

At a few minutes to six, Amazon called to let me know the driver was on his/her way, but was going to be a few minutes late because of traffic.  No big deal and the call was a nice touch.  The driver showed up carrying what looked like Amazon Fresh totes (insulated and reusable), but instead of green, they were brown.

He pulled out to two brown bags, said thank you and was on his way.  I made sure to order frozen and chilled items to see how they were packaged.  I was little surprised to see them split evenly between the two bags and not segmented by frozen/chilled.  Since my order was likely picked around 2 or 3 and sat chilled for a couple of hours, my smoothie had a few ice chunks in it.  Not perfect, but I’m still in awe I just got fresh food delivered to my door a couple of hours after ordering from my phone on the side of a trail and the delivery was free (less $5 tip to the driver).

 

IMG_4141

There are not yet fruits + veggies or butchered meats + fish offered, but for day one selection, I was happy and I’d prefer to get my veggies at the farmer’s market anyway.  

Going back to the app today, there was no list building application or previously purchased page, so I’d be starting from scratch again.  Having a weekly list would be great and would help increase frequency by decreasing the amount of time it would take me to shop.  Additionally, why not do a weekly Subscribe and Save offer?

Where I did my grocery shopping this week:

IMG_4138

Self serve advice for vendors in how to best take advantage of Prime Now:

  • Waive your minimums, increase your confirmation and fill rates.  Amazon is taking a risk in entering these new markets; show your commitment by getting your supply chain right.  Amazon is not going to pull your items in if it thinks you won’t fill an order.  
  • Small screen = mobile first content.  Make sure your hero images are shoppable from a small screen.  Do a double check on your content to ensure your bullets + descriptions are correct—even better if you have access to a scraping tool that can comb the ASINs—with the same ASIN being on Now as on .com, it will be easier to check the .com ASIN.
  • Even if these are Now/Fresh only ASINs, variate them on .com so the reviews will aggregate on Now.

Patrick Miller, Co-Founder, Flywheel Digital has spent the last four years deconstructing eCommerce sites and helping American manufacturers figure out Amazon from a brand, search, social, customer service, supply chain, pricing and sales perspective.

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