Free online deliveries from Whole Foods are coming to an end for members of the Amazon Prime paid loyalty program.
Starting Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, all online delivery orders placed through the Amazon Prime membership service will carry a $9.95 delivery fee. Amazon Prime members, who up until now received free delivery for Whole Foods orders over $35, have been paying the fee in the for Whole Foods delivery orders in the Portland, Maine; Providence, R.I., Manchester, N.H.; and greater Detroit, Boston, and Chicago markets since the summer.
In the FAQ section of the Whole Foods Market page on its main e-commerce site, Amazon said the new service fee will cover operating costs, including equipment, technology and other costs associated with grocery delivery orders, so it can continue to offer the “same competitive everyday prices” in-store and online at Whole Foods Market.
Additional rush fees will apply to one-hour Whole Foods delivery orders. In-store pickup of online Whole Foods grocery orders over $35 will continue to be free from Prime members, although additional fees will continue to apply to rush pickup options.
Interestingly, Amazon said there is no service fee on Prime delivery orders from its Amazon Fresh chain of high-tech grocery stores, which it debuted in Woodland Hills, Calif. in August 2020. The e-tail giant designed the format from the ground up to offer a seamless shopping experience with extra perks for members of Amazon Prime. Two-hour delivery and one-hour pickup from Amazon Fresh, where available, remains free for Prime members on orders over $35. Additional fees continue to apply to rush options.
According to CNN, Amazon initially notified Amazon Prime members of the upcoming new Whole Foods delivery fee in an email sent Friday, Sept. 24. A Whole Foods spokesperson told CNN that Whole Foods delivered three times as many orders in 2020 as it did in 2019.
Amazon initially acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion in June 2017. In February 2018, Amazon launched free, two-hour delivery of natural and organic products from Whole Foods Market through its Prime Now delivery app, which launched in 2014 as an exclusive benefit for Amazon Prime members and provides delivery on tens of thousands of goods in two hours or less in select cities in the U.S., U.K., Canada and at least seven other countries.
The company’s decision to curtail free Whole Foods deliveries for Prime members comes a few months after its May 2021 announcement that it will retire the standalone Prime Now app and website by the end of this year, moving the two-hour delivery offer onto the main Amazon app and site. Prime Now customers will be able to shop, track orders, and contact customer service without leaving the Amazon site or app.
Amazon is also experimenting with changes to the Whole Foods in-store shopping experience. Earlier this month, Amazon announced it will introduce its “Just Walk Out” autonomous checkout technology in two new Whole Foods Market stores — in the Glover Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C., and Sherman Oaks, California — scheduled to open in 2022. The company recently rolled out the revolutionary Just Walk Out technology at Amazon Fresh high-tech grocery locations in Bellevue, Wash. and Washington, D.C.