Chris Baus

Is Amazon Prime a Good Value?

Amazon Prime

Yesterday I wrote an entry about my addiction to Amazon Prime. I wanted to believe it was universally a good value, but @PSchammy on twitter prodded me to dig deeper. Is Amazon Prime really a good value for common household supplies?

I have been dubious about the economics of shipping large and inexpensive items via 2nd day air delivery. I keep wondering: how Amazon can make money on this?

So I took a trip over to my local chain grocery store, Raley’s, and gathered these hard numbers:

Bounty Paper Towels

Bounty Regular Paper Towels

8 Rolls from Raley’s: $9.98 $1.25/roll

30 Rolls from Amazon Prime w/ Subscribe and Save: $32.07 $1.06/roll

Looks good so far until you compare the price for the Bounty “Big” Rolls. I never knew paper towels came in some many different sizes until I started this project.

Bounty “Big” Select-a-Size Paper Towels

12 Rolls from Raley’s: $15.98 $1.33/roll

24 Rolls from Amazon Prime w/ Subscribe and Save: $41.05 $1.72/roll

Although I’d have to buy twice the quantity, the paper towels are significantly more expensive from Amazon than my local grocery even when using Amazon’s “Subcribe and Save” discount.

Clorox Bleach

Clorox Bleach 82 oz. bottles

6 Bottles From Amazon Prime w/ Subscribe and Save:$19.45 $3.24/bottle

1 Bottle From Raley’s: $2.29/bottle

But here’s the real kicker:

1 Gallon (128 oz.) bottle of generic bleach from Raley’s: $1.58/bottle

Unfortunately this shows kind of what I expected, even on name brand items like Bounty Paper Towels Amazon Prime isn’t always a better deal than the local super market. It would interesting to compare further against big box retailers like Wal-Mart and Costco, but those places are not convient to my house – Raley’s is just around the corner.

It gets even worse if you buy generics like I do. I use quite a bit of bleach because all of my towels and linens are white. I find it is cheap and easy to just bleach them until they are worn out and replace them. But this shows the convenience of buying these types of items on Amazon Prime is a trade off. It isn’t a double win of cost and convenience.

This is a disappointment, but I have to wonder if the economics will ever be in Amazon’s favor for these types of household staples.