Can amazon pantry compete with the supermarket giants?

Amazon have recently launched a new addition to their ever expanding online kingdom

Amazon Pantry.

Amazon Pantry is exactly what it says on the tin (excuse the pun) in that it is a way for people to purchase non-fresh produce online. (Think bottled drinks, cupboard food, pet food and household supplies). Which, from the outside, seems like a fantastic idea. If not a little brave. Why not pick up a bulk pack of toilet roll whilst you’re shopping for those books? Oh, and pick up a crate of beer whilst you’re at it!

But, the first glaring problem with the idea of Amazon Pantry is that not many people associate Amazon with food. The household supplies may do better, but I am skeptical the cupboard food (cereal, pasta, rice, tins, spreads and sauces as an example) will sell. When people do an online food shop, it tends to be a package deal of everything they need. Fresh food included. So would it be beneficial financially or in terms of time for people to buy fresh items online from one supermarket and non-fresh items from Amazon? If you can do your entire food shop in one place, why do it in two places? A quick glance also shows the price point isn’t cheap enough to encourage shoppers to do full shops with Amazon Pantry, but rather pick up the occasional item, maybe in bulk.

And can they really compete with the giants of grocery shopping? Most of whom now have some sort of loyalty scheme. From what I can see, Amazon aren’t offering any sort of point system, offers or anything in way of a loyalty scheme. I feel like if people had a choice of ordering an online shop (and that’s a full online shop, rather than one lacking in fresh produce) where they’d gain points as opposed to one where they wouldn’t, they’d go with the former. Maybe if Amazon offered some sort of cross-service reward/promotion, people may be more likely to use Amazon Pantry. Maybe money off an Amazon Prime membership or, if you’re already a member, money off an Amazon Pantry order for Prime customers.

Whilst it’s great to see Amazon expanding and challenging the norm with online food shopping, it is flawed. But who’s to say they won’t adapt and improve the service with time? It is, after all, a new offering. As much as I’m not sure how often I would personally use Amazon Pantry (except, maybe, with the exception of some bulk orders for special occasions), I am intrigued to see how it develops over time.