Amazon Prime Now: 5 Things to Know Before Your First Order

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Getting groceries delivered to your home is becoming a regular way to shop for many of us. Now more than ever, stores are partnering with grocery delivery services or offering their own. Among those is Amazon Prime Now.

In this article, I’ll take a look at five things to know before placing your first Amazon Prime Now order. I recently ordered groceries from Whole Foods using Amazon Prime Now in order to share my experience with you and give you some tips on how to use the service. 

5 Things to Know About Amazon Prime Now

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you already have access to same-day delivery through Amazon Prime Now. With Prime Now, you can shop for groceries and other essentials and have them delivered directly to your home. Other than your Amazon Prime membership fee, there’s no extra cost for using the service as long as you meet a $35 order minimum. If your order totals less than that, you’ll pay $4.99 for delivery.

If you’re thinking about placing an order through Amazon Prime Now, here are a few things you should know before getting started: 

Table of Contents

In each section, you’ll find detailed information about Amazon Prime Now including a step-by-step guide to placing your first order. By the end, it should be easy to decide whether or not the delivery service is right for you. 

What Is Amazon Prime Now?

Amazon Prime Now is a same-day delivery service exclusive to Prime members. In addition to groceries, you can get tens of thousands of daily essentials delivered including electronics, clothing, personal care items and even toys. 

Depending on where you live, you may also be able to order from local stores such as Fresh Thyme, Bristol Farms, Bartell Drugs and Westside Market. In many areas, Prime Now also offers grocery pickup and delivery from Whole Foods. In fact, ordering from Whole Foods was the only option available in my area.

Once you’ve chosen a retailer and placed your order, a personal shopper will pick up your items, notify you of any substitutions or out-of-stock products and deliver your order during a time slot that you select. 

To see if Amazon Prime Now is available in your area, visit the website and enter your ZIP code.

How Does Amazon Prime Now Work?

Amazon Prime Now works by connecting Prime members with personal shoppers who are employed by Amazon. Your shopper will pick up your items from Amazon, Whole Foods or another local retailer and deliver them to you. 

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Before you get started, make sure Amazon Prime Now is available in your area. Once you’ve confirmed that it is, follow these steps to place your first order:

Step 1: Log In or Download the App

You can visit Amazon Prime Now online or download the Prime Now app (iOS and Android) and enter your ZIP code to get started. While you can browse as a guest, you will have to log in to your Prime account before checking out. I recommend logging in as soon as you’ve downloaded the app or made it to the website to get it out of the way.

Once you’ve signed in, you’ll be able to choose from which stores you want to shop. In many areas, you can choose between Amazon or Whole Foods. If you shop Amazon, you’ll find more access to household essentials and non-grocery products. If you are shopping just for groceries, note that Prime members get exclusive savings online at Whole Foods, which makes it a great option if available.

Amazon Prime Now store selection highlighting Amazon and Whole Foods Market

In my area, Whole Foods was the only available option. So when I logged in, I only saw grocery products from there. Once you’ve selected your store, you’re ready to start shopping.

Step 2: Fill Your Shopping Cart

You can browse items by category or search the entire selection. If you’re shopping at Whole Foods, you can click on “Prime members save more” for the best deals

As you find groceries and products you’d like to purchase, you can click “add” to add them to your shopping cart or click on the picture of the product for more details. 

A product page on Amazon Prime Now showing customer ratings, pricing and additional details

If you scroll down the product page, you’ll see reviews from other customers. I found that these can be really helpful to read. I almost bought a watermelon not realizing that it was a mini size, and many other customers said they’d made the same mistake. Thankfully, I was able to avoid it after reading their reviews.

Step 3: Select Your Delivery Time and Place Your Order

After you’ve added all of the products you’re buying, click on your shopping cart to check out. Review your list and make any necessary changes. 

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At the top of the screen, you’ll see that substitutions are allowed for each item by default. You can check the box that says “Leave out all unavailable items” if you don’t want any substitutions. Or you can check “Leave out if unavailable” under individual items if there are only specific products you don’t want to be substituted. 

Substitution preferences and information

If you choose to allow substitutions, your personal shopper will text you to confirm the next-best item they’ve chosen. If you don’t allow substitutions, your shopper will skip over the item, and your total price will be adjusted.

Once you’ve selected your substitution preferences and verified that your order is correct, click “Proceed to checkout.” On this page, you’ll be able to select your delivery address and delivery time, enter your mobile number, leave delivery instructions and enter your payment method. 

Final information for grocery delivery including address, mobile number, timeframe, etc.

I scheduled my delivery within a two-hour window later the same day. I also could have scheduled it within a one-hour window for an additional $4.99 delivery fee.

Once you’ve verified the details of your order on this page, you can click “Place Your Order.” Immediately, you’ll be redirected to the order tracking page where you can see the status of your order.

Step 4: Receive Your Delivery

Groceries delivered from Whole Foods Market via Amazon Prime Now

Once you’ve placed your order, you can check the status of it at anytime online or in the Prime Now app. If you entered your mobile number, you’ll also get text updates when your shopper begins working on your order, if there are any substitutions to confirm, an alert that your order is on its way and another update when it’s been delivered. 

My order was delivered in the first half-hour of the timeframe I’d selected. From the time that someone began shopping for my order to the time it was delivered, just over an hour had passed. Since I’d ordered perishables (specifically, ice cream), I was a little worried. But the brown bags that the food came in included insulated thermal bags that kept food fresh and frozen.

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Amazon Prime Now delivery bags and insulated thermal protection

I was also impressed with the quality of the food selected and nothing stood out to me as something I wouldn’t have picked myself.

How Much Does Amazon Prime Now Cost?

While there’s no additional subscription or monthly fee for Amazon Prime Now, it is only available to Prime members. An Amazon Prime membership fee is $12.99/month or $119/year

If you’re shopping at Amazon or Whole Foods, you can avoid the $4.99 delivery fee by placing an order that’s at least $35. The required minimum order amount for free delivery varies at other local retailers available on Prime Now. 

If you choose a one-hour delivery window, you’ll have an additional $4.99 charge even if you’ve met the minimum amount required. You can avoid this fee by choosing a two-hour delivery window.

Tips are optional and separate from the delivery fee. The default tip is $5, but you can adjust this during checkout. Other than a potential delivery fee and tip amount, you shouldn’t have any additional charges. 

As far as product prices go, I found that Amazon Prime members are eligible for exclusive savings online at Whole Foods, which makes it a great store to shop at via Amazon Prime Now.

Amazon Prime Now vs. Amazon Fresh

In addition to Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Fresh is another delivery option for Prime members. Both services are available online and as apps for iOS and Android devices, but you’ll have to request access to be able to shop via Amazon Fresh.

Both services primarily partner with Whole Foods and offer groceries, personal care and household essentials. You can have your order delivered the same day with either one. In general, you can expect a $4.99 delivery fee or free delivery on orders over $35 with each service as well. 

As far as substitutions go, Amazon Prime Now offers more flexibility than Amazon Fresh. With Prime Now, you’ll be able to choose which items you’d like substituted and a personal shopper will contact you to confirm any changes. With Amazon Fresh, you aren’t able to approve changes nor disallow substitutions on specific items. 

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Unfortunately, Amazon Prime Now isn’t as widely available as Amazon Fresh. Prime Now is available in over 100 major cities across the United States, but Amazon Fresh is available in more than 2,000 cities and towns. 

Pros & Cons of Amazon Prime Now

Overall, Amazon Prime Now offers a reliable delivery service that brings groceries and household essentials right to your door. Still, there are a few drawbacks to ordering your groceries online. After using Amazon Prime Now myself, here are the biggest pros and cons I found: 

Pros: 

  • Convenience: Amazon Prime Now certainly helps you save time shopping for groceries and other household items. You can place your order from your phone or laptop, receive updates and get your delivery without having to leave home. That also means you’ll be less tempted to make impulse purchases. 
  • Same-Day Delivery: You can get your groceries in as little as one hour after you’ve placed your order. You can also schedule your order in advance to receive it at a time that’s convenient for you. 
  • Exclusive Savings at Whole Foods: Prime members are eligible for exclusive savings at Whole Foods, and I found them to be worth taking advantage of. 
  • Quality Delivery: I loved that my order was delivered in insulated bags that kept my ice cream frozen and meats and fruits fresh. Plus, the entire thing was contact-free and I was able to track my order’s progress the entire time. 

Cons:

  • Availability: Unfortunately, Amazon Prime Now is currently only available in select major cities across the U.S., and some locations have limited store options. When I placed my order, I wasn’t even able to order directly from Amazon; Whole Foods was my only option. 
  • Required Prime Membership: If you aren’t already a Prime member, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend signing up for a membership exclusively for Prime Now. However, if you already are a Prime member, it’s a free service worth using. 

I had a great overall experience with Amazon Prime Now. The website was more user-friendly for me than the app was, but they were both easy to navigate. I was also happy with each of the products my personal shopper selected. The quality of the food was excellent, and I had no problems placing and receiving my order.

Have you ever ordered groceries from Amazon? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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