Is Amazon Resetting Its Grocery Delivery Service?

When Amazon stuck its toe in the grocery game two years ago with its Prime Fresh service — an extension of its $99 per year Prime member service — it came with a pretty hefty price tag. Los Angelenos (L.A. is where the service launched) would need to shell out $299 a year once the 30-day free trial period came to a close.

Except those free trial periods never quite ended for some as Amazon kept pushing back the end of the trial date, according to Re/code reports. Now, some are speculating that the nation’s largest eCommerce player is considering revising that price point entirely.

Amazon has no official comment on the subject, but Re/code does put together an interesting “bread crumb trail” that seems to lead to a new price point as a live possibility. Grocery the Amazon way allows customers to order in the morning for same-day delivery or afternoon ordering for following morning delivery. The service has expanded beyond its home in L.A. to delivery zones up and down the California coast and some availability in New York City, Northern New Jersey, and the greater Philadelphia area.

The NYC free trial was initially set to run from the service’s October 2014 launch through the end of the year. However, eight months in, Prime Fresh is still on the menu for New Yorkers who have not upgraded to the $299 version of the service. Ditto for Prime members in Seattle, New Jersey and Philly, where the service is gong strong despite the fact that the trial period was supposed to have ended seven weeks ago.

Plus, Amazon seems to have shifted the design of the program some by adding an a la carte option that allows users to pay a $7.99 charge per delivery, as opposed to a $299 annual membership. That model is still being tested in California only. And because Amazon likes to keep things complex, it has also added some cold grocery items to its two-hour Prime Now service in cities where there is no Prime Fresh at all.

So what’s going on?

Without information from Amazon, there is almost no way to be certain — though potential answers being speculated on at present include that Amazon is still attempting to build demand sufficient to charging consumers for the service and has not gotten there yet in the Prime Fresh cities. Hence the trial period stays on for free for longer in an attempt to get customers more habituated to it. Amazon may be considering a full model switch where pay per delivery is available everywhere. It also seems at least possible that Prime Fresh and Prime Now are about to become a single service — likely with a new pricing scheme to follow.

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