The fee has been tested in six markets already.
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Amazon is known for pushing free delivery: Though Prime comes with plenty of benefits, "Fast, FREE Delivery" is listed first. (Emphasis theirs.) So last month, the online behemoth surprised some people when they began testing a $9.95 delivery fee on orders from Whole Foods (which Amazon famously acquired back 2017).

First tested in six cities, Whole Foods and Amazon must have been satisfied with the results because, starting on October 25, that $9.95 fee will be applied to Whole Foods delivery orders nationwide.

An independent contractor wearing a protective mask and gloves loads Amazon Prime grocery bags into a car outside a Whole Foods Market
Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

Similar to when the fee was first being tested, a Whole Foods spokesperson told us that the fees are being implemented specifically to cover the operating costs on the delivery service — a move that would help the brand avoid having to increasing costs on actual products. And along those lines, the company emphasized that if you want to pick up the groceries yourself, you can avoid the service fee: Whole Foods pickup orders of over $35 continue to be free for Prime members.

Interestingly enough, though delivery has long been touted as the future of the grocery industry and has become more prevalent during the pandemic (Whole Foods says they delivered over three times more orders in 2020 than they did in 2019), the company also stated that they were working to improve the in-store shopping experience as more customers return to brick-and-mortar locations. Whole Foods citied their plans to bring "Just Walk Out Technology" to two locations next year, the implementation of the palm-reading "Amazon One" payment system, the return of prepared foods, an increased assortment of local items in-store, and the opportunity to pick up and return Amazon packages at Whole Foods as reasons shopping in-store is now more convenient and rewarding.

All this would seem to imply that Whole Foods might actually rather have customers do their shopping in-store — or that Whole Foods would at least like you to consider coming in to do you're shopping. Maybe all those delivery by robot and drone programs aren't moving as quickly as they'd like?