Amazon grocery suppliers “frustrated and disappointed” six weeks into launch – but most still won’t bet against it

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Online shopping Amazon

Food manufacturers working with Amazon on its new UK grocery business remain frustrated and disappointed by its progress six weeks after launch, although most still say they would not bet against the online retailer in the long-term.

Several firms contacted by this week said that Amazon had launched the UK grocery site six weeks too early, had failed to market it properly and failed to devote sufficient resources to handling administrative aspects of the set-up process for suppliers.

One small company that has products listed on Amazon but fulfils orders directly through its own online store, said the whole experience to date had been “very frustrating”.

A source there added: “The people we had to speak to initially were not the same people we subsequently had to deal with, which has made the whole process quite challenging. We also thought there would be more work done on the marketing side, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet.”

One much larger firm said: “The results so far have been somewhat disappointing but we are working with Amazon to address some of the issues.”

Some others said they “haven’t sold much yet​” but hoped things would pick up.

Grounds for optimism?

However, most suppliers we contacted still remained upbeat about its long-term prospects and said it was unfair to compare it with shopping at or Ocado because it was not trying to do the same thing.

One ethnic foods specialist said that sales had picked up after a lacklustre start and that more customers were now using the site to buy its products in bulk.

The IT manager at the firm added: “We’ve had a few orders to start with that were obviously from competitors that were just checking us out, but generally we’ve been fairly pleased with how things have picked up since. Funnily enough, we’ve had a lot more male customers via Amazon than we usually get!”

The fact that Amazon had not spent a fortune on launch marketing was probably deliberate he speculated, with the firm keen to iron out technical problems, get a feel for how customers were using the site and identify where the growth opportunities were before spending a fortune on marketing.

Early days

Amazon has declined to answer specific questions from about sales targets or teething problems raised by suppliers, but stressed that it was “early days”.

A spokeswoman added: “Our aim is to be the place where customers can find and discover any product they want to buy online and we have created a store that not only includes a great choice of household favourites but also a large selection of international, niche and ethnic foods, many of which may have proved hard to find for shoppers in the past.

“As well as offering low prices on individual items, customers can also take advantage of the great value and convenience offered by bulk-buying everyday products such as nappies, washing powders and petfood.”

Fulfilment model

The fulfilment model for the new grocery store (with bulk ambient groceries delivered from Amazon’s own depots but niche and temperature-controlled products delivered directly from suppliers) has proved controversial, as customers ordering several items could potentially receive – and pay delivery charges for - scores of separate deliveries.

However, more products were becoming available centrally, claimed the Amazon spokeswoman: “There are thousands of items available directly from for free delivery and we will continue to work tirelessly to increase that selection.”

Click here​ for more coverage of the Amazon launch.

Related topics Supply Chain Ambient foods

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