Amazon launched a new Prime Pantry service today, letting customers in the lower 48 states order household products they might otherwise get from a grocery store. Prime subscribers can fill a 4-cubic-foot box with up to 45 pounds of selected items, then get it shipped to their home for $5.99, plus the price of the items included.
An Amazon spokesperson told GeekWire in an email that the shipping fee allows Amazon to carry hundreds of new items, including those that would have been cost-prohibitive to ship for free. Those items include single boxes of breakfast cereal, “convenience-sized” personal care products and bottled water.
People who are expecting Prime Pantry’s speed to match that of their standard shipping might be disappointed. Prime Pantry delivery takes 1-4 business days, compared to Amazon Prime’s standard two-day shipping.
Rumors of the service surfaced last year, and pointed towards Amazon wanting to compete with stores like Costco and Walmart, which offer discount prices on groceries. Amazon touts its service as providing “everyday essentials in everyday sizes,” in a clear jab at those companies, which require people buy in bulk to gain the biggest discounts.
Prime Pantry is a part of Amazon’s continuing efforts to drive more business by selling household products. The company launched a limited test of a barcode scanner for groceries earlier this month targeted at Amazon Fresh customers in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The Amazon Dash, a new voice-enabled device that automatically adds scanned items to a user’s online shopping cart, seems like it would be a natural extension of the Prime Pantry service.
The Seattle-based retailer is clearly hoping that Amazon Prime users will be willing to shell out a little extra cash for the convenience of having household delivered to their door, but that may be a tall order for customers who are already seeing the price of Prime go up by $20, from $79/year to $99/year.
But if Amazon can train customers to start buying household goods through Prime Pantry, they may be more likely to spring for Amazon Fresh when that grocery service expands.
Here’s a video from Amazon showing off its new service: