Fresh Check: Amazon Fresh, London

Britain's favourite fresh produce magazine since 1895
Mike Knowles

BY MIKE KNOWLES

@mikefruitnet

Fresh Check: Amazon Fresh, London

Video: Eurofruit tries out the new Amazon Fresh service, which began delivering to Londoners in June 2016

The idea behind Amazon Fresh is simple: source the best products from around the world, let customers order them online and then deliver them quickly. But behind the scenes, there’s a long, complex supply chain to contend with; delivering fruit and veg is arguably much more difficult than delivering books.

For customers in 128 postcodes in central London, the newly launched Amazon Fresh online store offers a broad range of fresh fruit and vegetables sourced from a number of different countries. The new virtual department is billed as a place for Amazon Prime members to do their weekly shop, although the option is theoretically there to have your grocery order delivered within the hour.

As shown in the video below, we decided to order a basket different products that would test the new service’s capabilities: we selected British strawberries and tomatoes, two different types of bagged salad, a mixed punnet of seedless green and red grapes, a bunch of bananas, broccoli from Europe and Tenderstem from Africa, and some white-fleshed peaches.

Overall, we were impressed with the number of different products available – the site’s inventory appears to have been well thought-out and designed with two main customers in mind: impulse purchasers buying for a particular occasion; and customers trying to put together a larger weekly shop.

Some items, however, including certain berry lines, were not available during our research, so we were forced to leave this off our shopping list.

EG Amazon grapes Grown for You

Delivering value

Placing our order and indeed paying for it was very simple and straightforward. Exactly what we’ve come to expect from Amazon.

Likewise the no-quibbles return policy that has been a hallmark of Amazon’s service in other products over the past few years was reassuring, an important feature no doubt for those who might be in two minds about entrusting the company with supplying their food.

When it came to booking a delivery, though, I will admit that we ended up having to cheat a little to make our test feasible. When we were researching the site and working out whether or not the test would work, we found that the morning and afternoon slots were disappearing extremely quickly each day, with none remaining more or less always before 9am.

This rendered the notion of ordering goods and having them delivered within the hour impossible, despite it being a feature for which we had essentially paid an additional £7 per month (on top of Amazon Prime membership at £8 per month).

So, we ended up having to pre-book a specific slot a few days in advance. The order was delivered on Monday 20 June between 1pm and 2pm, but that slot was secured on the previous Friday. When we checked back first thing on the day of the delivery, the one-hour slots between 7am and 5pm had all been taken.

High quality, but eat them quick

As for the products themselves, the quality was on the whole extremely high. Without exception, everything tasted fresh, ripe and tasty. The products were as follows:

Bananas
Best before: 21 June · Quantity: 5 · Variety: Cavendish · Origin: Colombia · Brand: Fairtrade, Grown for You (private label)

Peaches
Best before: 22 June · Quantity: 4 · Variety: Ice Prince 2 · Origin: Spain · Brand: Selected for You (private label)

Strawberries
Best before: 22 June · Pack: 400g · Variety: not shown · Origin: UK · Supplier/brand: BerryWorld

Broccoli
Best before: 22 June · Weight: 300g · Type: organic · Origin: Spain · Brand: Nature’s Premium · Supplier: Produce World

Broccoli
Best before: 22 June · Pack: 220g · Variety: Tenderstem · Origin: Kenya · Brand: Love Me Tender · Supplier: Wealmoor

Grapes
Best before: 23 June · Pack: 500g · Variety: Flame, Early Sweet · Origin: Egypt · Brand: Grown for You (private label) · Supplier: not shown

Tomatoes
Best before: 24 June · Pack: 200g · Variety: Baby San Marzano · Origin: UK · Supplier/brand: The Tomato Stall

Salad
Best before: 25 June · Pack: 200g · Type: mixed leaves · Origin: EU · Brand: O’live · Supplier: G’s

Salad
Best before: not shown · Pack: 100g · Variety: baby leaf rocket · Origin: not shown · Supplier/brand: Vitacress

The strawberries in particular were as good as any we could have found in the high-street supermarkets, likewise the white flesh peaches impressed on flavour despite the distance and journey involved.

As shown above, however, not many of the ‘best before’ dates were more than a couple of days away, which means the clock was ticking especially as far as eating the five bananas was concerned.

Factor in the £4 delivery charge for baskets under £40 – our basket came to a total of £12.03 for the nine items – and the whole thing does start to look a little expensive, more so for impulse buyers.

Of course, if we had used Amazon Fresh to do a weekly shop, and then done the same over successive weeks, the overall cost of using the service would fall.

Eurofruit tests Amazon Fresh in London

Mike Knowles takes a close look at Amazon's new grocery delivery service, which began serving the UK capital in June

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