Amazon Restaurants – Should you try this food delivery service?

Amazon Restaurants is a restaurant food delivery service built on a simple promise: “Restaurants You Love. Delivered by Amazon.”

The service features a $4.99 delivery fee (waived for orders of $35 or more) for bringing you meals from local eateries. It is available only for Amazon Prime members, which requires an $99 annual subscription. There are 20 major metropolitan areas in the United States where Amazon Restaurants delivers. If your city has a NFL or NBA team, chances are very good that Amazon Restaurants delivers in your area. It is also available in the food-enthusiastic cities of Columbus, Ohio and Austin, Texas.

I used Amazon Restaurants for the first time and the process was straightforward. Here is how it works.

 

It is a 3 step process: The customer place an order online, the restaurant prepares the food, and an Amazon delivery driver brings it to the customer. I used a Windows 10 laptop to place my order, and had my iPhone logged into Amazon Restaurants.  Estimated delivery time and prices were clearly listed for every restaurant.

The selection of restaurants was sufficient, but not impressive. There are over 620,000 restaurants in the U.S. according to the NPD Group, and Amazon Restaurants is partnering with under 10,000 restaurants nationwide.  If I told you Amazon Restaurants partners with 2% of all restaurants, that coverage might sound low. But the reality is not nearly as bleak as it sounds. It only took me only a few seconds to find a great local independent restaurant on Amazon Restaurants.

There were plenty of their best items on their menu to choose from. The food arrived on time in under 1 hour, hot, and in good condition despite heavy traffic. In exchange for the $4.99 delivery fee and tip, we saved time and effort for dinner. In summary, this food delivery service is worth a try if you can afford it.

The Ordering Process

Starting the ordering process was easy and quick. I logged into Amazon on my Windows 10 computer. On the Amazon main page,under the Departments tab, I selected Restaurants, Food and Groceries, and then navigated to Amazon Restaurants. You will be shown a selection of dozens (or possibly hundreds) of restaurants to choose from. You will not likely see a lot of national fast food chains listed as choices, as quick service restaurants such as Wingstop are trying out their own delivery services. The user interface is simple and somewhat limited in its ability to filter restaurants. You can browse by cuisine, featured restaurants or new restaurants. The Amazon Restaurants website will not let you search by specific restaurant name such as “Schmidt’s Sausage Haus“. Nor can you search restaurants alphabetically.

Once you select a restaurant, you select items and add them to your cart. Appetizers, salads, drinks, main courses and desserts are easy to view. Menus are organized and photos of food are plentiful. The website provides an estimate of a delivery time as soon as you select a restaurant. If the estimated delivery time exceeds 1 hour, a yellow warning triangle is prominently displayed. During a visit to Amazon Restaurants during peak traffic time, many of the estimated delivery times were about a half hour. Your delivery times will be greatly impacted by where you are located and when you order.

Placing an order is easy and I was able to complete it within a minute. There is a minimum order of $10 for your Amazon Restaurants order. Delivery fees ($4.99 for my order) are waived for orders over $35. Delivery Fees and Tip are listed separately in the order. You may change the Tip amount from the default of $5. Amazon Restaurants asked if I wanted to receive text alerts on my order, and I selected yes.

The next step for me was to confirm the order. Amazon already conveniently had my address, phone and payment information entered in the order form. Amazon Restaurants easily let me change this information easily when I needed to.

Preparation and Notification of Order Status

Once the order was confirmed using my laptop, I was taken to a screen that showed the status of my order. I was notified that the restaurant was preparing my food.

Do you imagine the legendary chef Thomas Keller remotely viewing his talented kitchen staff’s activities in his restaurant empire wearing an 8K pair of virtual reality goggles? And think to yourself that is something you’d like as well? Well, Amazon Restaurants does not offer that sort of insights on the preparation of your meal. It does not conduct live streaming of activity of food being prepared. I simply received a “Your Amazon Restaurants order is on the way” text on my phone and a similar notification was posted on the website.

Once the food was in the hands of the delivery driver, the Amazon Restaurants web page showed the first name of my delivery driver. You are provided a means to contact your driver directly. You are a shown map of where your food was being prepared, and your location for delivery. The map does not show the real-time location of the delivery driver, which can be frustrating for analytical personalities. There is some insight provided. While logged into Amazon on my computer (and on my iPhone), the estimated time to delivery is constantly reduced as the screen refreshed. I had enough information to know when I needed to be ready to answer the door.

Two minutes before the actual delivery, I received a Your Amazon Restaurants order will arrive soon” text.

Delivery

The delivery of the food completes the process. For this order, Amazon Restaurants accurately estimated my delivery would take 30 to 50 minutes to arrive. It took 40 minutes, as promised.

The delivery driver comes to your door, there is no need to run out to the street unless you choose to. The delivery driver was cheerful, addressed me by name and handed me a sturdy paper bag contained carefully packed items. Nothing was spilled, and the food was as hot as expected given the distance it traveled.  Even the fried food still retained some crunch within its crust and the cold items were still cold. We were happy with the delivered meal.

Comparing Amazon Restaurants to UberEATS

Evaluating Amazon Restaurants against a key competitor, UberEATS reveals some differences. UberEATS is a little more refined, informative and easier to navigate. Both services took about the same amount of time to place an order. UberEATS was built from the ground up as a smartphone app. It shows when you use their app, there’s no waste and fewer distractions on the screen when ordering.

It feels like Amazon Restaurants has to fit within the internal rules of the Amazon app and the Amazon website. You can use the Amazon app on the iPhone: typing “Restaurant” into the search box with the magnifying glass icon in order to pull up. When using the iPhone Amazon app, searching for “Restaurant” under “Shop By Department” will not bring you to the Amazon Restaurants section. For iPhone and Android users, there is no standalone Amazon Restaurants app yet, you can choose to order within the overall Amazon app.

In comparison to UberEATS,  Amazon Restaurant lacks:

  • the ability to see your driver’s real-time progression and location on a map
  • the ability to schedule an exact Delivery Time
  • a default tip amount of $0 (the default is $5 on Amazon Restaurants)
  • a large selection of cuisines to choose from (e.g., no BBQ nor Korean) – this is impacted by the number of participating restaurants
  • the ability to have less than $10 of food delivered (yes, UberEATS will deliver you a $3 ice cream if that’s all you want).

Amazon Restaurants does have its own unique benefits. You can ask Alexa devices to deliver anything from your Amazon Restaurants order history. Hands free. And that is great for that one person in your family who orders the same dish over and over. You know the one. Is your smartphone battery dead? No problem. You can easily order from Amazon Restaurants using a computer, tablet, Echo device, or smartphone, and track the progress of your order on multiple devices simultaneously.

Amazon Restaurants Is Worth Using

So would I use Amazon Restaurants again? I definitely would. It is a nice time saver. Especially when it is time-consuming or difficult to get to a favorite restaurant. To merely drive to that restaurant would have been a 50 to 60 minutes round trip. The service also is appealing to travelers in a rush who have no interest in the culinary offerings in or around their hotel.

The bottom line is that placing an order with Amazon Restaurants took me a just a few minutes. There were good restaurants to choose from, the meal arrived when expected, and it was enjoyable.  It was worth the delivery fee and tip. Consumers who are looking for a reliable, easy-to-use food delivery service have a solid option in Amazon Restaurants.

 

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