Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Amazon Fresh Morning

We returned from a long trip last night and, knowing we'd arrive late with no food in the house, I decided to try Amazon Fresh and their pre-dawn delivery service.

I was reminded to try thanks to a regular mailing they sent, this time one that told me about specials they have on gourmet cheese. I like the idea of a home delivery service for hard-to-find specialty food items, so I'm glad Amazon has started to move in that direction.

Some of my comments:

  • Best part: only $25 for free delivery! And it arrives before we wake up!
  • Still no high-end gourmet coffee! Not even Peets or Starbucks, much less the really specialty stuff like Espresso Vivace. Only one brand of whole bean coffee at all: Dunkin Donuts (?!). Yuk. [update:  apparently I screwed up while searching.  Turns out there are plenty of gourmet coffees, whole bean and otherwise.  No Espresso Vivace or Peets, but plenty of others]
  • Too hard to browse. Obviously it's nice to do a keyword search (like, say, "rice") but then I'm presented with a zillion options but my ways of winnowing the choices are limited to really basic things like brand or price. The "show only" pane helps, but only if I'm specifically looking for things like organic or kosher. How about letting me browse by "what other customers bought", like I can on Amazon?
  • The sorting algorithm needs to be more transparent. When presented with a long list of items to choose from, it's way too tempting to just buy the first one. Do vendors pay Amazon for placement? Not that I mind, but they'd be more likely to get my repeat business if I knew how to organize the list to match my interests.
  • Many basic items are not available. Lots of things I wanted were out of stock, though they still showed up at the top of the search results (why?).  I wanted fresh bread, for example, but they don't deliver that before 10am.  The brand of rice I wanted was also out of stock.

So in the morning, how did it go? Well, the groceries arrived well before 6, as promised, in nice big hard plastic totes right outside our doorstep. The delivery man nicely placed our morning newspaper right on top -- very thoughtful touch, saving us a far trek up the driveway.

Amazon Fresh Delivery (with newspaper)

Each tote was sealed with a tamper-resistant tag -- easy to remove, but a reassuring measure for a food delivery.

Amazon Fresh Delivery (tamper-proof)

The cold items, like milk and bacon, were sealed in special insulated pouches with ice packs.  That's not really necessary this time of year, but another example of the attention Amazon has paid to logistics.

Amazon Fresh Delivery (insulation)

All items arrived exactly as ordered, and they even threw in a few bonus things like vine-ripened tomatoes, some snap peas, and some carrots.  Again, that's another friendly touch that costs Amazon nothing (especially if the items are overstocked anyway) but greatly added to our experience.

Will I order again?  You betcha.  It saved us a trip to the store to buy milk before the kids woke up, and it was soooo easy. 

If Amazon could find a way to deliver freshly-baked bread or croissants with some gourmet coffee and the morning's New York Times, I bet everyone on Mercer Island would be hooked. 

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