Saturday, June 24, 2006

Amazon Organic Groceries

What do those three words have in common? Not much...until recently.

Amazon has now launched an online grocery service for bulk non-perishable goods. This is a move that takes direct aim at the customers of places like Sam's Club and Costco. Given the fact that Sam's Club(part of WalMart) is anti-union, offers low pay and poor benefits in addition to being a BigBox drive-to-only, environmentally unfriendly store, it might be better to buy through Amazon where at least the people paid to deliver it to you are paid fairly. On the otherhand, there's Costco which still has all the problems of being a bigbox store but it does pay workers fairly and give decent benefits.

My vote between Sam's Club, Costco and Amazon? None of the above.

The way to buy bulk is at your local co-op in bins not 80 individual packages put into one big package produced by one huge company and sold to you by another huge company.

The entire article follows:
Shopping outside the box

June 21, 2006
In an earlier column, I answered a reader's question regarding online grocery shopping with local supermarkets. Yes, it is possible to save money because online grocery services provide most of the same products as a grocery store, they feature sale items, offer their own coupons and many will even accept traditional grocery coupons.

Best of all, by avoiding walking in the store you limit impulse purchases, which can be the downfall of even the most disciplined grocery shopper. With the busy schedules of most families, online grocery shopping can save valuable time and even gasoline costs.

Now there is another interesting online grocery shopping option. Think of it as the warehouse club concept — online. Amazon has entered the online grocery shopping business by offering nonperishable items in bulk at bargain prices. I recently read an article about the great bargains provided by this service, so I had to check it out.

Amazon's grocery section states that they carry more than 10,000 nonperishable items, that their products have great everyday prices, and they are eligible for free Super Saver shipping. For comparison, a typical large supermarket has 25,000 to 35,000 items, but that includes perishable items as well as nonperishable items.

While I'm convinced that Amazon has a good selection, I am a skeptic whenever any store claims to have great "everyday" low prices. Therefore, I compared some of their common items' prices with items I purchase on a regular basis at my grocery store.

For example, Amazon sells standard size boxes of Kellogg's cereals 17.6 oz. in a four pack, at an average price of $3.68 per box. That same variety and size of cereal is currently selling for $2.50 per box at my store this week. I'm not sure buying four boxes at that price offers enough convenience to offset the higher "bulk" price!

However, any strategic shopper knows how to figure out the rules of a store to take a strategic approach to getting lower prices. Although Amazon does not accept traditional grocery coupons, they do have regular promotions. For example, their site is currently promoting a special promotion for Kraft and Planters products. If you buy $39 or more of selected Kraft or Planters products, you get $15 taken off your order immediately as an instant rebate with a coupon code provided by the site.

In that case, I could buy a 12-count case of Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese dinner 14 oz. boxes for $28.80 and a 15-count case of Balance nutrition bars for $11.54. I would qualify for free shipping and there would be no sales tax. After the $15 instant rebate was deducted, I would be paying $1.51 per box for the Kraft dinner and 48 cents for each nutrition bar, which are pretty good prices for those items. Therefore, if you are a shopper who likes the convenience of online shopping, and has the storage space to keep an inventory of your purchases, you may be able to find some grocery bargains on typical items from Even so, I wouldn't order those items because I could probably find them at lower prices with coupons at my stores when they were on sale, without having to buy them in bulk quantities.

If you prefer organic foods, you may want to check out Amazon's organic grocery section. They feature many popular brands and also have promotional offers, such as instant rebates, on selected brands.

Finally, Amazon has a nice gourmet food section that featured some attractive gift baskets. Promotional offers for the gift baskets included a free $10 Amazon gift certificate with the purchase of a gift basket valued at $50 or more. If you needed to send a nice gift to a friend or client, and could take advantage of free shipping, you may find some nice quality bargains from

If you discover some smart savings strategies and real bargains in Amazon's grocery section, I'd love to hear about them!

Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a regular contributor on ABC News' "Good Morning America." You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and visit She can be reached at

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