Amazon’s online grocery order options compared: Prime vs. Fresh vs. Whole Foods – CNET

If the ongoing pandemic has you avoiding crowds and looking to order groceries online, Amazon has several grocery delivery services that could bring everything you need to your door in under two hours. 

Prime members in more than 2,000 cities and towns can get two-hour delivery on more than 170,000 items. And anyone who shops the site can order certain staples even without a Prime subscription. If you have an Alexa device, you can add groceries to your cart and place an order through voice command. 

Read more: Does Amazon have the best price? Use these four tools to find out

But with lots of different options floating around the site — including Whole Foods, Amazon Fresh and regular old Prime — things can get confusing quickly. Plus, as of early January, the company’s grocery and household essentials subscription service Amazon Pantry was rolled into the main Amazon.com store, so you no longer have to pay an extra fee to stock up on those items, an Amazon representative confirmed. 

We’ve broken down the four different ways you can order groceries through Amazon, how long delivery takes and any memberships and fees you might face. 

You can also check out our guides to the best alcohol delivery services, the best meal kit delivery services and the best restaurant delivery apps

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Price: Free delivery on orders over $35 for Prime members.

Thanks to its purchase of the Whole Foods Market grocery chain in 2017, Amazon offers free two-hour delivery of Whole Foods items, for Prime members who live in certain areas (namely, those with a Whole Foods nearby). You’ll find everything you’d normally find at a Whole Foods on Amazon, including fresh produce, meat and seafood, and pantry staples. 

If your order is over $35, you’re eligible for free two-hour delivery, or free one-hour pickup from any Whole Foods store. If you want your groceries in one hour, you’ll be charged a delivery fee based on your order total. 

If you prefer shopping at Whole Foods and have a Prime membership, this is a superconvenient service. Though Whole Foods products used to cost significantly more than comparable items from stores like Trader Joe’s and Target, since the chain was acquired by Amazon, prices appear to have fallen quite a bit. Prime members who shop in a Whole Foods store will also get an extra 10% off sale items (excluding alcohol) and other deals throughout the store.

Whole Foods Market grocery delivery on Amazon is currently available in 2,000 cities and towns across the US. 

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Price: Free delivery for Prime members on orders over $35 to $50 (depending on area).

Amazon Fresh is a grocery delivery service available to some Prime members living in several cities, including New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Houston and Atlanta, as well as some cities internationally. Though you’ll find some products from the Whole Foods 365 line, most groceries here come from Amazon’s massive warehouse facilities. 

To find out if Fresh is available in your area, go to Amazon.com/Fresh and enter your ZIP code in the “Deliver to” field at the top left corner of the page. 

Up until 2019, Amazon Fresh cost $15 a month. But now it’s included with your Prime membership for $13 a month or $119 a year. Both paid and free-trial Prime and Prime Student members are eligible to shop Amazon Fresh, but Prime Video members aren’t. Amazon Fresh is currently available in 2,000 cities and towns across the US. 

There’s one exception to the Prime membership rule: Customers using a SNAP EBT card in a participating area receive free access to the Amazon Fresh selection without a Prime membership, and get free delivery if they meet a certain price threshold.

If you’re eligible for Amazon Fresh, you can shop for just about anything you’d find at your local grocery store, including fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, cheese, canned goods, pantry staples and household items. 

With Amazon Fresh, delivery is free on orders that meet a certain threshold. Depending on the area, that’ll be either a $35 or $50 minimum before tax. If you don’t meet that price, you’ll be charged a delivery fee of $5 to $8, depending on how fast you want your order. Some cities also have a free pickup option. Delivery can be as fast as two hours, or during a two-hour time slot that day or the next that fits into your schedule. Amazon will leave items on your doorstep or wherever you specify. 

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Price: Free to shop with potential delivery fees, or $13 a month for a Prime subscription.

That’s right — you can order groceries through your regular old Amazon or Amazon Prime account, the same way you would any other product through the site. Under the site’s Grocery & Gourmet Food category, you’ll find nonperishable items like water, candy, coffee, snacks and kitchen items like plastic wrap or garbage bags. These products arrive the same way any other product you buy through the site does. Some offer the Subscribe & Save option for an extra discount. 

From the Grocery & Gourmet landing page, you can refine your search by specialty (like gluten-free, organic or kosher), calories per serving, fat calories per serving and nutrition facts. You can also search by price, Prime eligibility, Pantry eligibility, delivery time, brand, seller or reviews, or by categories, including alcoholic beverages, breakfast foods and snack foods. However, some categories (like deli and prepared foods, or frozen) will show options that are available only through Whole Foods.

Basically, the Grocery & Gourmet Food page is useful for finding nonperishables, but it’s also a repository for all other Amazon grocery delivery options. 

Amazon

Price: Free to shop with potential delivery fees, or $13 a month for a Prime subscription.

A final grocery category on Amazon is part of Launchpad, the site’s showcase for startups. Amazon works with entrepreneurs to provide resources and support for new products. Within the Launchpad Food section of the site, you’ll find lots of options for nonperishables from companies you probably haven’t heard of yet. A quick glance at the landing page reveals everything from specialty honey to protein bars to salmon skin chips to vitamin-infused coffee pods. 

Launchpad probably isn’t where you’re going to go to grab a carton of milk and some Doritos, but you might find some interesting new specialty products or ideas for gifts. 


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