A guide to Amazon Fresh, the online retailer’s grocery pickup and delivery service

senior ordering grocery delivery tablet kitchen
Amazon Fresh, much like Instacart, is a grocery delivery and pickup service.

  • Amazon Fresh is a grocery pickup and delivery service that lets you order groceries using the Amazon app or website.
  • To use Amazon Fresh, you need to live in one of the cities in which the service operates, have an Amazon Prime membership, and request an invitation.
  • Amazon Fresh offers free deliveries for orders of $35 or more in select cities.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

Amazon may have begun as an online bookstore, but the retailer quickly scaled up to sell all manner of housewares, electronics, media, clothing, and more – today, there’s virtually no product category it does not sell.

What to know about Amazon Fresh

Case in point: Amazon Fresh is Amazon’s grocery pickup and delivery service, currently available in nearly two dozen US cities and some international locations. Using the Amazon Fresh website or the Amazon mobile app, you can place a grocery order online and have it delivered to your door or visit the store and pick up the completed order.

In general, most things you can find walking the aisles of a grocery store you can find and order through Amazon Fresh. That includes meats and deli items, fresh fruit and vegetables, canned foods, prepared meals, and more. The exact inventory of grocery items available for purchase will depend on your local area, though, since the products come from local stores that Amazon has partnerships with.

What_is_Amazon_Fresh 1
You can use the Amazon app or website to place Amazon Fresh grocery orders.

How to get Amazon Fresh

Amazon Fresh isn’t available everywhere. Because of the nature of the service, in which Amazon must nurture relationships with local stores, it’s available in more than a dozen US cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC. To find out if it’s available near you, enter your zip code at the Amazon Fresh website.

In part to control the growth of the service and ensure Amazon can maintain adequate service quality standards, Amazon Fresh is currently available by invitation only.

Amazon Fresh is available only to Amazon Prime members, so you will need to start with that membership, which has a standard cost of $119 per year (for more information, see our guide to the costs and benefits of Amazon Prime). You are considered eligible if you have an Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime free trial, and Amazon Prime student membership. If you only have an Amazon Prime Video membership, though, you are not eligible.

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you can request access to Amazon Fresh at www.amazon.com/fresh. In most cases, you will probably not need to wait long for approval.

How much Amazon Fresh costs

Aside from the required Amazon Prime membership, the Amazon Fresh service itself has no ongoing subscription cost. It’s free.

Depending on the cost of your grocery order, though, you might need to pay a delivery fee. Orders under $35 have a variable delivery fee of up to $10, while $35 or more are delivered free. Some cities have a higher cap on free delivery; in New York, for example, you need to place orders over $50 to get free delivery.

How does HelloFresh Work? Here’s what you need to know about the meal kit delivery serviceHow to cancel your HelloFresh account and avoid getting chargedHow does Instacart work? What to know about the grocery delivery service powered by freelancersHow to cancel an Instacart Express membership if the grocery delivery service no longer fits your needs

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I went to the first Amazon Fresh store in the UK and felt like a shoplifter. Take a look inside.

Insider's Kate Duffy outside the first Amazon Fresh store in the UK
Insider’s Kate Duffy outside the first Amazon Fresh store in the UK.

  • Amazon has just opened its first cashierless Amazon Fresh store in the UK so I went to check it out.
  • Cameras and shelf sensors monitor what you’re putting in your bag and you’re billed after you leave.
  • The trip was hassle-free, but I wasn’t a fan of the hundreds of cameras dangling from the ceiling.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The Amazon Fresh store in the borough of Ealing, west London, is no ordinary supermarket.

Retail giant Amazon opened its first physical store in the UK on March 4 so I decided to go along to see what all the fuss was about.

It operates in the same way as the cashierless 20 Amazon Go stores in the US – you go in, put the items in your bag, and wander back out.

I felt like the world’s biggest shoplifter, even when carrying Amazon’s green bag with “Just Walk Out” slapped on the side.

The whole shopping experience was hassle-free. There’s no dodging trolleys, speed-packing at the till or faffing with credit cards. You get billed after you exit the shop, although my receipt took two hours to come through so I didn’t know exactly how much I’d spent until then.

The location is only 2,500 square feet so it’s much smaller than a supermarket and it would be a struggle to do a weekly shop in there.

Overall, I was impressed at the organisation, cleanliness and efficiency of the store. What I didn’t like was the hundreds of cameras hanging from the ceiling, checking what was going into my bag. It had a dystopian feel.

The food wasn’t anything special, but what makes this store pop is its futuristic technology that means an effortless shopping trip.

Here’s what happened during my shopping trip to London’s new Amazon Fresh and what I bought:

The UK’s first Amazon Fresh store is located in Ealing Broadway shopping centre, West London.

Amazon Fresh UK store
Amazon Fresh store in Ealing, west London.

My first thought when approaching Amazon Fresh was: why Ealing? 

It takes over an hour on the tube to get from central London to Ealing. But the high street is home to some popular household names — the newest being Amazon Fresh.

The doors in the photo above are the exit to the store. The entrance is around the corner where I joined a line, downloaded the Amazon app and got directed by assistants in green jackets.

I visited around 14:00 p.m., just after the lunchtime rush, so the queue wasn’t very long. Considering the store has no tills, it noticeably cut down the waiting time.

As soon as you scan the QR code on the Amazon app, you’re timed. The receipt showed I was inside the store for a total of 17 minutes and 12 seconds.

To get into the store, you have to scan the QR code on the Amazon app, which opens the green barrier.

Amazon Fresh start
Shoppers’ first glimpse inside Amazon Fresh.

Amazon Fresh didn’t fail to give a good first impression. As long as you have the Amazon App downloaded, it’s a simple scan of the QR code and you’re in. 

Customers can take their own bags or pick up the medium-sized, reusable Amazon Fresh bags for £1 ($1.40). There are no trolleys or baskets, which made the whole experience much smoother.

But as a pedantic trolley-stacker, shoving things into a bag and not visually having my food in front of me to organise proved a little difficult.

 

If you look up, you’ll see loads of cameras pointing at the shelves. They track every item that goes into your bag.

Cameras hanging from the ceiling
Cameras hanging from the ceiling.

The main visual difference between Amazon Fresh and other supermarkets were the hundreds of cameras dangling from the ceiling. I felt like I was being watched, even though the cameras were just monitoring what was going into my bag.

On the flip side, it felt safe and secure. If the tech remains reliable, then shoplifting shouldn’t be a concern, as customers are tracked as soon as they enter the store via their Amazon account.

 

The cameras work in conjunction with weight sensors on the shelves to determine which items you’ve picked up.

In the bag it goes
Amazon’s own aubergine masala.

Halfway around the store, I realised I was putting items into the bag in a very exaggerated manner to prove I was set on buying the product and had nothing to hide. 

The aubergine masala was part of a takeaway deal of two mains and two sides for £10 ($14). 

You can’t hand items to other people to put in their basket. You have to pick them up yourself.

Shopping at Amazon Fresh
Amazon Fresh aisle.

It’s a solo shopping experience. If you pick up an item and pass it to another customer, the weight sensors and cameras will think you put the product in your bag so you’ll be charged. 

 

Amazon Fresh sells a range of its own branded food, including pizzas, ready meals and fresh fruit and vegetables at competitive prices.

Amazon's own food
Amazon’s own food.

The retail giant sources its food from British suppliers. Unexpectedly, around one third of the store was taken up by Amazon’s own branded products. And it all looks great!

Prices are average but competitive. It’s £4 ($5.60) for a medium-sized pizza, similar to other UK supermarkets such as Tescos and Sainsbury’s. But Amazon Fresh offered good deals. For the two chicken breasts in the photo above and a side, it’s £5 ($7). 

The store also had free-from, organic and vegan ranges, as well as lots of popular food brands.

 

Amongst all the Amazon food, there’s an Amazon Hub.

Amazon hub at Amazon Fresh
Amazon Hub.

At the back of the store, you’ll find the Amazon Hub where you can pick up and return items that you’ve bought online from the retail company.

In the pharmacy section, there are coasters that you can take to the Amazon Hub to exchange for medicine.

Drugs at Amazon Fresh
Medicine at Amazon.

What is usually a pointing game with a cashier behind a till, is now a case of picking up a coaster and handing it into the Amazon Hub to get drugs.

 

The alcohol is enclosed in a corner with a ‘booze bouncer’ checking people’s ID as they walk out.

Alcohol section at Amazon Fresh
Alcohol section.

The ‘booze bouncer’ welcomed me into the alcohol corner and proceeded to watch what I put into my bag — on top of cameras watching me. I picked up a beer and on my way out, she asked to check my ID. 

When I asked her if I could take a picture of the alcohol section, she told me: “Of course, lots of people are doing that at the moment.”

Given that attractions are shut due to COVID-19, the store has become a tourist magnet. There were certainly more tourists than genuine shoppers roaming around in there.

It was also noticeable that everybody in Amazon Fresh was young. This begs the question of whether older people will have the technology to shop there.

You can even get an Amazon Fresh meal deal.

Meal Deals at Amazon Fresh
Amazon Fresh meal deal.

The meal deal section was huge. There’s a wide variety of meals, snacks and drinks on offer. 

The meal comes at its standard price, then you add any drink and snack on top for £1. Some of the meals were really fancy, such as the lemongrass chicken and edamame mixed grain salad.

Behold Amazon’s ready-to-go hot food and bakery with fresh bread baked on site.

Hot section and bakery at Amazon Fresh
Hot counter and bakery.

Amazon Fresh is ideal for that lunchtime food dash. There was a lot of ready-prepared food, perfect for city workers on the run.

Customers can make a cup of coffee for £2.30. Oat milk was also an option.

Hot coffee at Amazon Fresh
Hot coffee section.

At the front of the store, there were two separate coffee machines, one for normal milk and one for oat milk.

The store itself was bright and vibrant with pop music. It felt exclusive.

Amazon Fresh aisle
The cold aisle at Amazon Fresh.

Amazon Fresh was comparable to a high-quality UK convenience store, such as Waitrose. It was clean, tidy and there was lots to choose from. 

The strangest bit was walking out without having to scan the items.

My receipt was emailed to me two hours after I left the store, which I became impatient for because I was eager to know whether the technology had charged me correctly.

It did — it logged every item in the order I put them into my bag.

The total cost for 13 items came to £20 ($28).

What I bought at Amazon Fresh
My Amazon Fresh treats.

Amazon Fresh makes it too easy to buy things…

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