When Amazon announced Thursday that its Prime Now one-hour delivery service was available in the Twin Cities, we decided to put it to the test — the ice cream test.
To order, even current Amazon Prime members — $99 annual fee — have to download the Prime Now app, which displays the items available for quick delivery. (Amazon Prime membership also includes video streaming and free delivery on any Prime items on the full Amazon.com site).
We placed two orders on the day the service launched: the first was easily the most challenging, snacks for our downtown Minneapolis office, including an order of ice cream bars. The second order was for pantry items for home delivery.
Here’s what we found:
The “snack attack” order: Journalists are known for their propensity to eat anything and everything, so snacks were our obvious first choice. While browsing the app, we were surprised to see ice cream sandwiches among the offerings and added Oreos — don’t judge — and a 12-pack of Trident, paying $7.99 for one-hour delivery.
The order was placed midday Thursday. Because access to the Star Tribune offices in the Capella Tower complex can be complicated, I added a note with a phone number, saying I’d meet the driver at street level. The driver ignored the note but still easily hit the mark, amazingly delivering in 36 minutes. After a prompt call from shipping and receiving, the ice cream sandwiches were in hand (and mouth) in less than 40 minutes. The joys of modern life.
Total price: $33.18. (Items: $20.19. Delivery: $7.99. Tax: None. Tip: $5). The prices were equivalent to Amazon’s low/regular store prices.
Delivery time: 36 minutes.
The verdict: The delivery time was nothing short of incredible. The ice cream sandwiches, while just starting to get soft, were delicious. Who doesn’t need this?
The “help at home” order: Remember that time you forgot you didn’t have any more laundry detergent, or batteries, or whatever. This is that order. This is also where we ran into our first bump. Although Prime Now says one-hour delivery may not always be available, we were hoping to place this order Thursday night and to use the free, two-hour delivery for first thing Friday morning. Apparently, others had the same idea because by the time we ordered laundry detergent, a 20-pack of AAA batteries and Crest toothpaste at 10 p.m., the next available delivery time to south Minneapolis was 12-2 p.m. Friday. Feeling spoiled by our first experience, we went ahead and placed the order.
Total price: $27.58. (Items: $20.95. Delivery: Free. Tax: $1.63. Tip: $5.)
Delivery time: 12 hours and 20 minutes.
The verdict: It wasn’t two-hour delivery, or even first thing in the morning, but was still a convenience and worth the $5 driver tip.
Is it worth it? For people who are already Prime members, using Prime Now is a no-brainer. Even if Amazon can’t always hit the one- or two-hour delivery window, the free (even if it’s just next-day) delivery is well worth the $5 tip, particularly if you factor in the time/gas spent making a run to the store. If you’re using only Amazon Prime for speedy delivery, it’s probably not worth it. As a core user who streams Amazon Prime video frequently and already uses Amazon’s regular free two-day delivery service, Prime Now is a welcome, timesaving option.
The selection: Items available, while limited, are more expansive that you might think. There are plenty of essentials like phone charging cables, batteries, diapers. I was surprised to see ice cream and other refrigerated foods (juice, cheese sticks, pot stickers), plus some carry-on luggage, a child-safety gate and a limited selection of housewares such as shower curtains and scented candles.
About that tip: Every order includes a $5 tip for the courier by default. Amazon says the entire amount goes to the driver. (You can change the tip in the app up to 48 hours after delivery.)
The details: Both the ZIP codes we had delivered to required a $20 minimum order. One-hour delivery costs $7.99. Two hour (or later) delivery is free. Available delivery windows range from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.