The Amazon-Whole Foods era starts tomorrow (Monday August 28): what to expect

The Amazon-Whole Foods era starts tomorrow (Monday August 28): what to expect

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods closes tomorrow, Monday August 28th.

Generally, when Amazon has taken over a company, customers haven’t seen a whole lot of changes.

That’s not going to be the case this time…and I think, mostly for the better.

That’s especially true for

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

members.

A lot of focus when the deal was announced was on how Amazon was going to market their website and services at Whole Foods (even with speculation that they would convert some stores into fulfillment centers and/or pick up locations). I didn’t see as much talking about what changes current Whole Foods customers would see.

Well, in this

press release

Amazon gives us some solid information.

Lower prices

That happens right away…on Monday. Not on everything, but on a “selection” of what they call “best-selling staples”. They are listing some kinds of produce. This will be a welcome change for many people. We shop at Whole Foods every week…and at Safeway and Trader Joe’s, and less often, at Sprouts. 🙂 We are vegetarians and low carb (we have pretty healthy diets) and one disadvantage of that is having to shop more often (since you tend to eat more perishable foods). We’ll save some money this way. This feels a bit like when Amazon started the Kindle store, and discounted some bestsellers to $9.99. Some people misunderstood that as $9.99 being the maximum for any e-book, but they never said that. 🙂 I suppose there may be some people who walk in expecting Costco prices now, but I think that will be uncommon. Some people will actually be put off by Amazon lowering the prices. As the former manager of a brick-and-mortar bookstore (and with other retail experience), I know that there are people who want to pay luxury prices for luxury goods. That’s not the case for most people, though.

It’s possible that people will need to stop jokingly calling it “Whole Paycheck”. 😉 It may also change the clientele a bit, possibly. This is a funny (but not entirely safe for work) video which I thought did capture some of the feel of Whole Foods:

(It’s Getting Real in the) Whole Foods Parking Lot YouTube video

If that does feel does start to change, it wouldn’t surprise me to see current Whole Foods employees quit to start another high-end (maybe even higher end) grocery store. I think they would have a tough time making that work, but it could happen.

That’s not to say that I think Whole Foods will start feeling like an Albertsons…but it may become more affordable.

Whole Foods house brands available through Amazon

This one isn’t a benefit in the store, but it does help Amazon customers and it expands the reach of Whole Foods. We’ve certainly bought these, including Whole Paws (pet food/treats). One interesting piece of this is that these aren’t just becoming available though Amazon.com, but will also be part of AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry, and Prime Now (one hour delivery, in some places).

Here is some information from Whole Foods on those brands:

Whole Foods Market Our Product Lines

This just seems like a plus all around, except that some people were probably drawn into the physical stores to get those products. People can become very loyal to their grocery brands, and my understanding is that it is better not to change your dog’s food very often.

Amazon Lockers in Whole Foods Markets

This is also something which we currently use, and like a lot.

The basic idea is simple: you have your Amazon items sent to a locker location, then pick it up there (instead of at home or at work) with a code. You can see what they look like in this article of mine:

Amazon Lockers come to a Safeway near us

I was being funny when I said they would be made out of sustainably harvested bamboo at Whole Foods…but I do think they could have a less, um, bold color scheme. More in greens and browns would fit in better, and maybe with leaves painted on them.

Not everything can be sent there, and there is a size limitation.

We’ve had packages stolen from our doorstep, so we have our Amazon packages either sent to my Significant Other’s work or to an Amazon Locker (I don’t really have a place for outside packages to be delivered at work).

Now, it’s interesting to note that the Locker we currently use is in a Safeway. I don’t expect them to close the Safeway ones to make people go to Whole Foods. Our Safeway is open 24 hours, which is why this works well for us. However, we would start having some things sent to the WFM locker instead. Hm…maybe they would close the Safeway ones, but they aren’t exactly direct competitors on most things…they are more complementary.

Amazon Prime as the Whole Foods Customer Rewards Program

I’m reporting this one last, because it is perhaps the most significant.

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

members will (eventually…this is an infrastructure change) get discounts and other benefits (exclusive items, bulk discounts perhaps). It will also become a rewards program for Whole Foods Market: you know, buy ten artichoke goat cheese pizzas, get one free. 😉

I don’t know that this will get the average Amazon Prime member (paying $99 a year, usually) to start shopping at WFM…but it might get people who shop at WFM to become Prime members (especially for exclusives). I do picture the most wealthy people getting groceries from Whole Foods, but not necessarily as being Prime members. This may get them to start.

One question, which Lady Galaxy, one of my regular readers and commenters already asked: how will they know you are a Prime member? Prime members already get discounts at Amazon’s physical bookstores (one just opened in San Jose, which is in my area, and another one is opening in Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area before the end of the year), so they have that figured.

They could do it by the Amazon shopping app on your phone. You could have it scanned at checkout, or it could just recognize it when you walk into the store through Bluetooth…sort of like Minority Report. 🙂 They could also have you just enter your e-mail address and Amazon password at check-out. Eventually, not right away, they could try what they have been testing with Amazon Express: checkoutless stores, where you use your phone. You could even pay for your groceries with your Amazon payment methods, hypothetically. They would likely always offer alternative, more traditional ways to pay, though.

There you go! Those are probably the biggest changes! Some things will stay the same, which as I mentioned is what Amazon does. It will continue to have the Whole Foods Market name. John Mackey will remain CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Whole Foods, and it will continue to be headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Gee, since it’s staying as Whole Foods, maybe they can refer to it as Amazon-Whole Foods, and when that synergism creates great things, they can say it is AWFul! Oh, wait a minute…on second thought… 😉

What do you think? Are you a Whole Foods customer now? If not, would this change that for you? Will you order WFM house brands through Amazon. If you walk into a Whole Foods Market and you see a display of Fires and Echo devices, how will you feel? I was thinking they could chain Kindles/Fires to the tables (with software limitations), so you could use them when you sit at the table to eat from the hot bar…good idea? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.


Bonus: want to see one of our dogs do something cute and smart? “Treadmill, Elf!” at YouTube

My current Amazon Giveaway:

We Can Do It! giveaway

That’s for a chance to win my sibling’s book:

We Can Do It!: A Problem Solving Graphic Novel Guide for General Physics (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

*When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. Shop ’til you help! 🙂 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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