Amazon Prime members will soon need to meet a much higher threshold for free delivery with online grocery orders.
Amazon plans to raise the minimum order size for free Amazon Fresh grocery delivery under Prime from more than $35 to over $150 effective Feb. 28, the Seattle-based company announced in an email to Prime members on Friday. Under the new policy, delivery fees for Amazon Fresh will be $3.95 for orders of $100 to $150, $6.95 for orders of $50 to $100 and $9.95 for orders of less than $50.
Currently, Prime members get free Amazon Fresh grocery delivery for online orders of over $35, though in New York City free delivery requires an order of more than $50. Orders less than those amounts carry a $4.99 delivery fee.
In informing the Prime membership base of the new fee policy, Amazon pointed to grocery price inflation and the high operational cost of delivery as factors behind the change.
“Amazon Fresh delivery orders over $150 will remain free with Prime membership. We’re introducing a service fee on some Amazon Fresh delivery orders to help keep prices low in our online and physical grocery stores as we better cover grocery delivery costs and continue to enable offering a consistent, fast and high-quality delivery experience,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in a statement.
With all Amazon Fresh online orders, Amazon said it will uphold two-hour delivery, while some markets also will be able to choose six-hour delivery for a lower fee.
“We will also keep evolving our Amazon Fresh grocery service, testing and adding more delivery options and increasing selection of low-priced foods for customers to enjoy,” the spokeswoman added.
The more than fourfold increase in the minimum order size for Amazon Fresh free delivery deflates a key perk of Prime membership, which costs $139 annually.
In late October 2019, Amazon made its then AmazonFresh perishables delivery service a free service under the Prime customer benefits program. With the move, free grocery delivery effectively became part of the Prime benefits package, with members able to buy groceries online and get same-day delivery at no charge for orders of $35 or more via AmazonFresh. Amazon’s then Prime Now and Prime Pantry programs already had offered members free delivery on orders of at least $35. Prime Now also included delivery and pickup from Whole Foods Market stores in selected areas.
Then in 2021, Amazon phased out the seven-year-old Prime Now same-day delivery program and integrated the service—including online grocery delivery and pickup—into its mainline Amazon.com website and the Amazon mobile app. With Prime Now’s integration into the Amazon website and app, consumers were able to shop, track orders and contact service from one location, including for Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh supermarket online orders.
The fall of 2021 also saw Amazon institute a $9.95 fee for Whole Foods delivery orders chainwide, with additional rush fees for one-hour delivery orders. The change came less than two months after Amazon announced a test of a $9.95 fee for two-hour deliveries — including Prime members — in six metropolitan markets. At the time, Amazon noted that the fee helped support rising costs for delivery amid elevated online order volume and basket sizes among Whole Foods customers.
Since then, Amazon has been absorbing the expense of delivery. Still, the company sees the new fee structure as in line with or lower than other grocery service providers that charge on a per-order basis.
In the email on the Amazon Fresh fee change, Amazon reiterated the strong package of benefits—ranging from streaming video and music, reading and photos to shopping, fast checkout and returns, exclusive deals and pharmacy, among others—that Prime continues to offer members. On the food side, for example, that includes in-store savings on selected groceries at Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods stores and a free, one-year Grubhub+ membership trial offering unlimited $0 delivery fees on restaurant orders over $12.
“As a Prime member, you continue to enjoy a wide range of shopping, savings and entertainment benefits,” Amazon said in the message to members Friday.