I tapped “checkout” at 7:12 p.m., was in my pajamas by 7:25 p.m., and at 7:49 p.m. I opened my apartment door to find an Amazon Prime Now delivery rider standing there with a bicycle helmet in one hand and my dinner in the other.
That’s pretty much all you need to know about my first experience with Amazon’s new restaurant delivery service. It worked flawlessly, from beginning to end.
Seattle became the first city to get Amazon restaurant delivery earlier this week, as the service started a slow rollout across certain parts of town on Tuesday. By Thursday, the rollout had reached me in the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Amazon tells GeekWire that it has bigger plans for the service, hinting at upcoming expansions into other cities. There are rumors that New York may be next, based on restaurant job openings there, but nothing has been announced quite yet. There is no shortage of tech giants and startups offering restaurant delivery in major cities across the country — GrubHub, Eat24, BiteSquad, Caviar, and many more — but Amazon has an edge with its built-in customer base of tens of millions of Prime members.
The restaurant option is part of the company’s Prime Now one-hour delivery service, which has launched in 11 markets. You have to pay $99 a year for a Prime membership, but after that, two-hour deliveries are free and one-hour deliveries cost $7.99.
But for hot meals from restaurants, one-hour delivery is free — with a $20 minimum purchase.
My experience got off to a good start when I pulled up the ordering options. There were a total of 56 restaurants listed in the app, and 48 of them were serving dinner at 7 p.m. Some items inside each menu were marked “unavailable,” but the entire dinner selection was usually there. Each menu had photos and the same prices you would see if you walked into the restaurant.
My girlfriend and I ended up deciding on Tap House Grill, and honestly that was the hardest part of the entire process.
I tapped what I wanted to order, entered my phone number in case they needed to reach me, selected a payment method already tied to my Amazon account and tapped checkout. Just to make things interesting, I added special instructions asking for one of the hamburgers to come medium well with no mayo — and that’s exactly how it showed up.
Amazon says tipping is optional, but it is pretty strongly suggested. When I checked out it had already added $5 for my delivery rider, though I could have changed that if I wanted to.
After I placed my order, I could watch my delivery rider making his way across town on a real-time map. I received an automated text message about two minutes before he arrived.
The food was medium-hot, but that’s about what you would expect from any kind of takeout. The french fries were still perfectly good, so it was a nice tradeoff for a night of uninterrupted Netflix.
As someone who has never been one to take advantage of the plethora of food delivery services available to me in one of Seattle’s hippest neighborhoods, I must say this changes everything. It was simple, quick, reliable — and free of delivery charges.
My rider was in a hurry to get on to his next delivery, but he did say before he went that they’ve “been slammin'” all week. He said riders are even having a hard time keeping up with all the demand, so it looks like I’m not the only one putting the service to use.
It wasn’t until after he left that it dawned on me the impressive feat Amazon had accomplished. It usually takes about 20 minutes for a restaurant to prepare a carryout order, and the restaurant I chose is about a 12 minute ride from my apartment — up an infamous hill. That leaves just 5 minutes of wiggle room for my order to be able to show up within 37 minutes like it did.
The whole experience left me feeling quite impressed — and pleasantly full. Now Prime Video just needs to add more of the shows I want to watch, and we’ll have a complete Amazon night.