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Design

Amazon Fresh: our first thoughts

Amazon is doubling down on groceries in the UK by extending their Amazon Fresh offering with fast free delivery.

This signals a move that will see them take on family favourites like Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, as well as online-only providers like Ocado.

In this article, we share some observations on our buying experience from Amazon Fresh and discuss whether fast and free delivery is enough to win customer favour in a highly competitive, highly lucrative market. 

The basics  

In light of Covid-19 people are less willing to purchase in-store meaning demand for online grocers is growing. Insight from studies we’ve conducted suggests this change is permanent.

Amazon Fresh’s grocery offering is powered by their own pantry and a mixture of Morrison’s goods. You must have a Prime subscription to use the service, and free delivery is only available for orders of £40 or more.

Amazon Fresh is similar, but not the same as the typical Amazon purchase experience. As users, we found it similar to Amazon’s core service but not quite as user-friendly.

Moreover, Amazon Fresh and Amazon Prime Now both operate in the same ecosystem, offering a similar service. Both offer grocery items under the ‘Amazon Prime’ banner whilst providing a different user experience which complicates the purchase journey and confuses would be customers. 

Brand

Amazon is renowned for the fast delivery of almost any product imaginable, however, what they’re not known for is the fast delivery of perishable goods. Brands like Tesco and Sainsbury’s have long established themselves in this space and have a mature brand standing. Amazon Fresh is functioning as a challenger in this space and will need to differentiate themselves to succeed. 

Experience 

Without a brand known for edible and perishable goods, Amazon Fresh needs to provide a knockout user experience. But, with Amazon’s core service being familiar to so many users, if the patterns and interactions users have on Amazon Fresh are too different this will breed user experience issues, increase friction and perhaps reduce orders.

A major experiential flaw comes from users having to build a basket and place an order before they can view any available slots for delivery. As a new user, having built a basket in an unfamiliar setting to then find out that no slots are available, before then being told to check back again soon, will mean many drop right out of the purchase journey entirely left only with a bad taste about Amazon Fresh in their mouth.

Timing

Amazon Fresh currently promises same or next-day delivery in parts of London and the home counties. Parts of Surrey also have access to same-day delivery when orders are made by 9pm, with the ambition of scaling this up to cover many more major regions and cities before 2020 is out.

In our experience, we found that goods were delivered within 10 hours in one instance, and outside the allotted time-slot within another. Amazon Fresh need to work on meeting promised timing if this is to be their key point of experiential differentiation from their competitors.

Quality

Even when the time-slot was met, and the order was fulfilled, we encountered various problems with the quality of the goods which we were provided with. This included: 

  • Two bags of missing shopping.
  • Bruised fruit and damaged cartons/packaging.
  • Food being close to its expiry date.
  • Poor substitutes for goods (i.e. soy sauce for pomegranate molasses).

All of this is detrimental to the overarching user experience Amazon Fresh provides. If each step of the purchase journey from discovery to fulfilment is not providing users with a best in class experience, there’s cause for concern. 

Challengers

Other players in this space who are not grocers or supermarkets offer a better experience with quicker fulfilment albeit on a more limited range.

This includes M&S’s partnership with Deliveroo, who can deliver select groceries in under an hour. This is because the groceries come straight from local shops and not warehouses or distribution centres. To accommodate this, Deliveroo have slightly tweaked their core ordering platform to allow for retail orders. 

Delivery is more expensive but for irregular purchases where you quickly need quality goods, it makes perfect sense. Despite a limited range, it still caters for all basics needs and offers an easy cancellation if all the goods you want are not available. 

You can only forget the molasses once 

Amazon Fresh’s fast and cheap delivery of 10,000 goods will not be enough to win customers over alone. Other players in the market have more established brands who have been providing groceries online for years, with others partners like M&S and Ocado soon to come into the market.  

If Amazon want to succeed as grocers, they have to focus on delivering the best possible user experience to their customers. This begins with looking at their current offering and speaking to and observing current and potential online shoppers to identify what works and what does not with their current experience. It ends with aligning on backend processes from purchase to delivery to guarantee people get their shopping into their hands within hours. Fast or wrong delivery that doesn’t come exactly when expected, misses the point.

It also means paying close attention to their competitors and their feature sets as means to improve on their offering. This and only this commitment to great user experience will help them differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace.


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