Friday, June 16, 2006

Amazon Grocery: You Can Now Officially Live Off Just One Website

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

shopping cart not included

Earlier this week, unveiled its new selection of grocery items available for purchase right on the Amazon website. You’ll find foods ranging from cereal to snacks to salad dressing as well as non-food items like detergent, trash bags, and over-the-counter medicines. And since none of the items are immediately perishable, they’ll be shipped to you just like any other product you would buy from them. Your groceries are even eligible for free shipping with Amazon Prime or a total purchase above $25.

So I decided to take a test drive of Amazon’s new grocery aisle and see how its prices compare to those of my local supermarkets. For the purposes of this experiment, I assumed that my Amazon grocery purchases would ship free with no sales tax. Since most of the groceries sold on Amazon are only available in large sizes or bulk quantities not typically available in stores, my price comparisons will include calculations based on unit price, whether that’s in ounces, pounds, servings, or some other easily comparable measurement.

safeway popcorn for 3.99 First up, I checked out the snack section and spotted Pop Secret microwave popcorn priced at $31.60 for eight 21-ounce boxes. That works out to $3.95 a box. This week at the Safeway across the street, one such 21-ounce box (pictured to the right) is on sale for $3.99. Amazon’s bulk regular price beat Safeway’s sale price by four cents a box. So far, it looks like Amazon could be a contender if you don’t mind storing massive quantities of popcorn in your cupboards.

salad dressing for 2.50 a bottle Next I was hungry for some salad dressing (not a salad, just the dressing), so I found this 6-pack of 16-ounce Kraft salad dressing bottles for $16.70, or about $2.79 per bottle. Safeway’s sale flyer shows one of those bottles on sale for $2.50 (see left). This time, Safeway’s sale price comes out on top (er, bottom), though I believe Amazon’s price would beat Safeway’s if it weren’t on sale. But considering that salad dressing coupons are fairly common in your Sunday paper, and Amazon has no way of adding those to your online transaction, I’ll award this round to the local store.

120 aspirin for 3.99 To break the tie, let’s try something from the health aisle. Amazon offers 400 of these low-dose, 81-milligram Bayer aspirin for $18.69. Next week’s sale ad shows my nearby Giant store will have its 120-count bottles (see right) at $3.99. That means Amazon’s charging about 4.7 cents per pill while Giant’s sale price is only 3.3 cents a pill. Clearly Giant wins this round, and I’ll be sure to check the regular price this weekend to see how it compares to Amazon’s.

I’ll probably need to do some more comparisons of other products to render a final verdict in the case of Amazon’s grocery store, but it looks like at least some of its items can compete with regular (and sometimes even sale) prices at your neighborhood chain store. I’ve also talked to a few people (mainly out in the mid-western portion of the U.S.) who are happy to be able to purchase organic foods through Amazon that their local stores wouldn’t dream of stocking. So it seems Amazon may not be competing with supermarkets solely on a pricing basis.

Whether or not their prices are the best, now that Amazon can deliver food right to your door in addition to books, household items, clothes, and even $16,000 truck tire changers, you never need to visit another website ever again. Except Punny Money. You need to visit Punny Money.

And yes, that is a $16,000 affiliate link. Please buy a few so I can retire. Get it? Retire? (It’s a tire changer.) Hahahaha.

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