how does prime pantry work


Is Prime Pantry worth it?

The digital coupons and wide variety may make this service tempting, but it still has a few hiccups that may deter you.


John-Michael Bond


Posted on Jul 19, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 10:46 am CDT

In its continued quest for world domination, Amazon has expanded its reach beyond streaming, audiobooks, two-day shipping, and Twitch into the grocery space. While its 2017 purchase of Whole Foods got most of the attention, Amazon’s grocery options don’t stop there. Prime Pantry is a subscription service that offers everything you’d find at your local grocer, with the exception of fresh veggies and meat. Cereal, snacks, drinks, household items like detergent, baby supplies, and healthcare basics—anything you might “run out to the store for” can now be ordered on Amazon.    

How does Prime Pantry work?

Prime Pantry requires an Amazon Prime membership, which is $119 per year or $12.99 per month. On top of that, members pay $4.99 per month for a Pantry membership. Once your membership is activated, Amazon gives you a virtual pantry box. While shopping on Amazon, you can identify eligible Pantry items by the Prime Pantry logo under their price.

When you add a Pantry-eligible item to your cart, Amazon will let you know exactly how much of your Pantry box the item will fill. Prime Pantry boxes have a 45-pound weight limit, so you’ll want to keep an eye on how full your box is. The top of the screen in your virtual pantry cart tells you how many boxes you’ve filled, how many items are in your order, and how full your current box is by percent. After shopping, check out as you usually would.

Shipping for Pantry is free on orders over $40. Orders below that amount are $7.99. Don’t try and get clever by ordering some Oreos and a DVD box set to meet your $40 threshold. Your total Pantry order needs to be $40, and Prime Pantry items are shipped separately from usual Amazon orders. Once you’ve completed your order, Amazon will have it shipped to your house.

How long do Prime Pantry shipments take?

Due to their size and weight, Pantry shipments are sent via ground transport. That means your package will take between one to four business days to arrive. Sorry, no free two-day shipping this time.


Why doesn’t Prime Pantry have fresh food?

Pantry is focused on non-perishable items, most likely because they’re easier to ship using ground transportation. Given the service has “pantry” in the name, you shouldn’t be surprised it’s focused on products with a long shelf life. You can still order cookies, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, food storage, soup, and pet food. If fresh veggies are your concern, try ordering from Whole Foods during business hours.    

What are the advantages of Prime Pantry?

Digital coupons: With Prime Pantry, there’s no coupon clipping. Each week Amazon posts what products are for sale, along with exactly how much the discount is. Discounts are listed by category on sliders, making it easy to quickly browse hundreds of products without scrolling past things you don’t need. Coupons provide the best savings with Pantry, often getting prices to within the same range you’d find shopping with your loyalty card at the supermarket.

Pantry-themed boxes: Shopping in a hurry? Prime Pantry has themed boxes based on general needs ready to go. Collections include breakfast foods, cold & flu supplies, baking basics, kitchen essentials, and more.

What are the disadvantages of Prime Pantry?

No generic brands: Anyone who shops on a budget knows the importance of generic brands when it comes to saving a buck. Prime Pantry doesn’t have generics, so while you’ll still be getting savings through Amazon’s bulk purchasing power, you’ll have to order Dr Pepper instead of Dr. Thunder.

No extreme couponing: The downside of digital coupons is you can’t stack them on top of each other to game the system. If you’re into extreme couponing, you’ll need to stay at your local grocery chain for the time being.

Slow shipping: Amazon touts its Pantry deliveries as taking one to four business days via ground shipping, but take note of that “business days” caveat. Business days in the United States are Monday through Friday. So if you order on Friday afternoon, your order won’t ship until Monday. Suddenly that one to four business days is at least four days with the possibility of it taking six or more days. This makes Pantry great for long-term purchases, but it’s awful if you’re running low on something immediately. Know you’ll need dog food in the next three days? Depending on how far away your nearest shipping center is, ordering on a Tuesday might still mean getting your order the following Monday. For bulk restocking, Pantry is excellent, but only if time isn’t an issue.

Limited geography: Prime Pantry is currently only available to ship to addresses in the contiguous 48, meaning no shipments to Hawaii or Alaska. Sorry, P.O. Box users, you’re out of luck too. See more restrictions below.

No Subscribe and Save: Pantry’s most frustrating crime is not working with Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature. Amazon customers can subscribe to everyday products like diapers, baby food, snacks, and cleaning products. Prime members who receive five or more products per month through the service to a single address get 20 percent off their subscriptions. Non-Prime members get 15 percent off their subscriptions if they receive five or more products per month through the service. Best of all Subscribe and Save users can schedule their delivery day, and shipping is free. It seems like a no-brainer this feature would be part of Prime Pantry. Instead, Pantry subscribers pay $4.99 per month just to use the service, need to spend $40 to get free shipping, and can’t even select their delivery day.

Why is it I can subscribe to have soup sent to my house through Amazon itself for free, but I’d have to pay a premium to order soup manually each month through Pantry? It’s just odd.    

Where can Prime Pantry be delivered?

At the moment Prime Pantry cannot be shipped to Alaska or Hawaii due to being sent with ground shipping. Additionally, Pantry items can only be mailed to a business or residential addresses, leaving out P.O. Boxes, APO/FPO, and even Amazon Lockers. Dorm rooms are also currently on the do-not-deliver list.


Does Prime Pantry offer a free membership?

New Pantry subscribers receive a 30-day free trial of the service. To sign up visit the Pantry page, click “start your 30-day free trail,” and follow the instructions.

Is Prime Pantry worth it?

After using Amazon Prime for a few years, it’s possible you’ve grown spoiled by two-day free shipping. If that’s the cause, Pantry isn’t for you. Pantry is best for customers who value convenience over expediency. Restocking products you use all the time without leaving the house or needing to lug them back to your house is convenient. Unfortunately, that convenience comes with a wait that can grow the later in the week you order.

Outside of those particular customers, who know they’ll need a bunch of something next week but not immediately, it’s hard to imagine who Pantry is for. For things you regularly use each month, it’s more convenient to go to the store or just subscribe through Amazon itself. The savings are nice, but not greater than anything you’d find at the store. Plus, you don’t have to pay for shipping if all you need at the store is flour. Pantry is an interesting idea, but until it becomes cheaper or faster, we say it’s better to go to the store.

Looking for more help? Here’s what you need to know about Amazon Alexa and how to use Amazon Alexa as an intercom system, Amazon Prime Wardrobe, how to sell on Amazon, Amazon Prime membership and if it’s really worth it.

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*First Published: Jul 19, 2018, 5:30 am CDT