Amazon Permanently Shuts Down Prime Pantry

By Dana E. Neuts

Amazon has permanently shut down its Prime Pantry service, a delivery service for groceries and other household essentials, reports Bloomberg. The service allowed shoppers to buy products like snacks, pantry items, cleaning products, beverages, breakfast items and other household products in bulk for a $5 per month fee. When the coronavirus pandemic started in the U.S. last year, Amazon put a pause on Prime Pantry because the company could not keep up with the high demand of consumer orders. Instead, Amazon encouraged shoppers to purchase their items through Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods Market or the Amazon marketplace in the grocery and household product categories.

When the pandemic began, Amazon paused Prime Pantry because they couldn't keep up with high consumer demand.
When the pandemic began, Amazon paused Prime Pantry because they couldn’t keep up with high consumer demand. Image courtesy of Amazon.

Prime Pantry launched in 2014 and, similar to Amazon Fresh, it offered free shipping on orders of $35 or more to Prime members. In select areas, non-Prime members could also shop Prime Pantry for a $5.99 shipping fee per order. Available in the contiguous United States, Prime Pantry shoppers could purchase Shop & Save items in any combination of five items to save 5%, or in any combination of 10 items to save 10%.

In 2018, the service moved away from the $5.99 per order shipping fee to a monthly membership model. For $5 per month, Prime members could skip the “per order” fee. Those who did not want to subscribe could opt out and pay $8 per shipment instead.

Amazon statement about closure

In an email to Bloomberg, an Amazon spokesperson explained the company’s rationale for discontinuing Prime Pantry, “As part of our commitment to delivering the best possible customer experience, we have decided to transfer Amazon Pantry selection to the main Amazon.com store so customers can get everyday household products faster, without an extra subscription or purchase requirement.”

Members who were part of the Prime Pantry program were notified in December and received refunds, Bloomberg says.

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Prime Pantry alternatives

Instead of Prime Pantry, shoppers can purchase their groceries and household goods through Amazon’s Subscribe & Save program, a recurring delivery option where subscribers can save up to 15% and get free shipping when they buy five or more eligible products to be auto-delivered to one address. Prime members can save as much as 20%. Prior to order deliveries, Amazon sends reminders to shoppers to let them know what items, pricing and discounts apply. Shoppers can then choose to continue with the delivery, skip it or cancel the subscription altogether. There are no fees to participate. Business accounts are not eligible for the Subscribe & Save program.

Shoppers can also purchase items in through the Grocery Sales & Deals page, through the regular Amazon marketplace (search on “pantry staples” for more than 3,000 best-selling products), or Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market via pick-up or delivery.

Amazon offers Prime Pantry shoppers alternatives.
Amazon offers Prime Pantry shoppers alternatives. Image courtesy of Amazon, emphasis added.

COVID changed life for everyone, so it was not a surprise last spring when Amazon found it could not keep up with the high demand for household essentials. Though the company quickly got up to speed, adding staff and expanding distribution and delivery options, they likely found that it was no longer cost effective to offer Prime Pantry in addition to its other services. If shoppers can get the same products through other Amazon avenues, this change is not a significant one, particularly for Prime members. Subscribe & Save is a convenient alternative for recurring purchases, while Amazon Fresh and Whole Food Market are good for fresh groceries and household essentials.