Amazon Prime customers have some extra time before they will have to start paying more for AmazonFresh, the company’s fledgling grocery delivery service.
Amazon has delayed a key deadline for Amazon Prime members in Seattle, Philadelphia and New York to upgrade to a $299/year membership for the convenience of getting food delivered to the home until the end of June.
“We did extend the free period,” said Amazon spokeswoman Nell Rona. “Prime members in Seattle, New York metro and Philadelphia metro can use the service for free through the end of June 2015. After that, customers will be able to sign up for Prime Fresh if they would like to continue using the service.”
In a follow-up email, Rona confirmed Prime Fresh will cost $299/year, which is triple the cost of the standard $99 a year Prime membership.
The new deadline represents the latest tweak to the timeline.
In December, Amazon announced it was going to start charging for AmazonFresh, but depending on a customer’s status with the company, the price hike would take place on one of two dates.
If you were an Amazon Prime member, who started using AmazonFresh on or after Dec. 12, you would have to start paying at the end of March. But if you were using AmazonFresh before that, you would have until the end of June.
In hindsight, the second deadline rewarded Amazon’s most loyal grocery shoppers, by giving them three more months to swallow the price increase. And now, with the latest changes, Amazon is greatly simplifying things by creating one deadline for everyone: July 1.
The changes make a lot of sense. Up until now, Amazon has been charging customers different rates in different cities, so increasing prices for everyone at the same time will make communicating across all markets easier. Another silver lining is that by holding off, Amazon delays finding out if customers are willing to pay a premium for grocery delivery.
Implementing the new fees will likely be no picnic.
Back when Amazon first announced these changes, there was an immediate backlash, with some customers saying they would be more eager to try alternatives. For instance, one loyal AmazonFresh user told GeekWire: “I have been looking for an excuse to try Instacart…and I am certain that Kroger and Wholefoods will welcome me back with open arms!”
Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, a Forrester Research analyst tracking the retail sector, also questioned the point in charging a premium. “I think everything indicates Amazon is about scale and getting volume. And worrying about profit later,” she said. “I know anecdotally the price scared even rich people.”