By Dana S. Mar
The North American Post
In late March, Uwajimaya began partnering with Amazon’s new “Prime Now” service, similar to the Amazon Fresh concept of delivering groceries purchased through the Amazon website. In addition to delivering groceries from Amazon, the Prime Now app (accessible through various mobile devices) offers groceries from PCC and Uwajimaya as well as over one hundred different restaurants around Seattle. The application allows users to search for specific food items and dishes across the three different grocery stores to compare prices or to search through a store’s specific departments.
According to Denise Moriguchi, President of Uwajimaya, the partnership with Amazon aims to “better serve [its] customers” due to many of the patrons having to travel relatively far to get their groceries. The response thus far appears to be positive and demonstrates the growing demand of convenience for those who are busy with work or have no car, says President Moriguchi. While the service is still new, items on sale at Uwajimaya are not reflected as such through Prime Now but this is anticipated to become a feature in the future of Uwajimaya and Amazon’s partnership.
To test Uwajimaya’s new service, I placed an order on Tuesday, April 5 at 3:46 p.m. for delivery scheduled between 4 and 6 p.m. Ordering is restricted to two-hour blocks of time for free but one can expedite delivery within an hour of placing the or to 10 p.m. Additionally, most of the items are of similar or identical pricing to their in-store counterparts.
I placed a $21.04 order, within the $20 delivery minimum, with six items to pass five tests: 1) handling breakable objects, 2) handling fragile foods that can bruise easily 3) timely delivery and shopping for perishable items, 4) procuring items that may be unavailable or run out quickly and 5) packing efficiently so as not to crush some items der for $7.99. Uwajimaya and PCC’s delivery hours are from 8 a.m. with others. Notably, while using the Prime Now application, one can specify the delivery location and whether or not it should be left at the door or given in person. However, someone must be present to receive it if the order includes perishable items. The application also displays a map to track the order as it is shipped to its final destination.
While the delivery passed most of the tests, I discovered a few things to keep in mind after receiving the order.
The order was delivered in two brown paper bags instead of insulated carriers as I had expected, but all items arrived in good condition. Among the items, nothing broke, fruit displayed no bruises, the perishables appeared fine despite some concerns about insulation and it was all well organized. Before it all arrived, I received a text message to the number provided asking if one of the items I ordered could be substituted for a similar and equally priced item. It is therefore reasonable to speculate that the system involves an individual “shopper” who procures the items from the store as a normal patron would in person and if there is an issue with the order the shopper will contact the customer to figure something out. Overall, the experience was positive and took less than an hour (from 3:46 to 4:33 p.m.).
Prime Now also offers delivery from over a hundred different restaurants around Seattle including at least eight specifically Japanese restaurants. Unlike the delivery service Bite Squad, Prime Now employees do not appear identifiable by a clearly marked company vehicle or uniform.