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prime pantryJust a few days ago Amazon rolled out its Amazon Prime Pantry service. We should have seen that coming even though nearly every other attempt at grocery delivery has failed. On the face of it, Prime Pantry sounds terrific for people who are too busy to go to the store (or just too lazy to get in the car). I don't have much doubt that Amazon will pull this off and be successful at it. But I marvel at the company's ability to do this on a national level.

But is it really such a feat? There are a few things that make this a no-brainer for Amazon. The first is that they are not shipping perishable foods, which means that delivery time can be as long as 4 days. That certainly takes the pressure off the local grocery stores when it comes to ... well, almost anything that needs refrigeration. It also means that Amazon doesn't need to have a massive fleet of delivery vehicles across the country. 

So is Prime Pantry really all that impressive? I see the service as a fairly simple expansion of what the company does and has always done. They warehouse products efficiently, process orders quickly, and ship huge volumes every day. That level of volume contributes to what I see as the main selling point - 45 pounds of product shipped to your door for $5.99. Not a bad deal, but not magic for a company like Amazon.

The most impressive part of the offering as far as I can see is the slick user interface that shows consumers just how close they are to filling up the 4 cubic feet and 45 pound limit. But looking at just what was required in order to make that work, anyone involved with a digital catalog knows that it only takes fairly simple mathematics to make the calculations.

My take on Prime Pantry is that it's an interesting foray into grocery delivery but far from ground breaking. What Amazon is likely to achieve from this is a bump in the number of subscribers to its Prime membership (required in order to participate in Prime Pantry). I think it may be a shot over the bow of retailers like Sam's and Costco for packaged products, but the local grocery stores are safe for now. That is until Amazon figures out overnight delivery of refrigerated products, and how to keep them chilled (and secure) once they land on the doorstep.

Last modified on Monday, 28 April 2014
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Scott Koegler

Scott Koegler is Executive Editor for PMG360. He is a technology writer and editor with 20+ years experience delivering high value content to readers and publishers. 

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