Amazon Fresh, It’s Just Not Working Out Between Us

I wanted to love Amazon Fresh. I really wanted to love it.

I figured that with Judah around, the best mix of value and convenience would be to buy everything we could at the Ballard Farmer’s Market (which we pretty much do anyway), and get everything else we needed from Amazon Fresh, running out to other grocery stores only when unavoidable.

Sad to say, it didn’t work out like that.

I’d presumed that Amazon Fresh had the same core value proposition as Amazon: enormous selection, good (if not predatory) prices, and a convenient online shopping experience. Sadly, Amazon Fresh ran 0 for 3 on that.

The selection was okay, but even excluding local products, not as extensive as the QFC in our neighborhood or Ballard Market. I couldn’t get the same kinds of juice; our first-choice toilet paper was unavailable, and any reasonable sizes for our second choice were out of stock. I searched extensively, but I couldn’t find anything I really wanted that wasn’t available at the other stores in our neighborhood.

The prices were the same story: all right, but not any better than the grocery store. The prices might have seemed better if we bought truly bulk sizes, but in an apples-to-apples price comparison, Amazon possessed no advantage — and possibly a disadvantage once I added in delivery fees (for orders of less than $100).

If selection and prices weren’t ideal, the convenience still might have been sufficient for me to become a fan. Unfortunately, the online shopping experience was terrible.

The search section, at the top of each page, contains a search box, and below that three lists: Aisles, Brands, and Show Only. There’s a bug (at least in my experience on Google Chrome on a Mac) where, if I press the button to clear the search box, and start typing my new search in, the three lists reset. When the lists reset, anything I’ve typed in the search box is cleared.

For example, let’s say I had searched for ‘toilet paper’ and that was in the search box. I press the little ‘x’ button to clear it, and start typing ‘ice cream.’ But about halfway through my typing, the aisles, brands, and show only boxes refresh — and I’m left with a search for ‘ream’.

This is, needless to say, poor UI. Has the Amazon Fresh team considered copying the rest of the Amazon UI? It would be a significant improvement over what they have in place.

Even so, I might have put up with the site if not for the final insult: inconsistent, and frequently wrong, product information.

Laura is allergic to peanuts, and so tends to avoid granola bars, which frequently contain peanuts and peanut flour. But I have found several types of granola bars that don’t, including the classic crunchy “oat and honey” flavors.

Looking at Amazon Fresh, you wouldn’t know it. The oat and honey granola bars from Barbara’s Bakery don’t have any ingredients listed. The Nature Valley bars list a whole bunch of ingredients that aren’t in this particular flavor of bar, including peanut flour.

With missing and/or untrustworthy ingredient lists, I consider using Amazon Fresh risky at best. Given the impossible UI, unimpressive prices and selection, and often long waits for delivery, I just can’t see myself continuing to use Amazon Fresh for groceries.