Archive for the ‘Amazon Lockers’ Category

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

August 27, 2017

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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Round up #148: review rules tighten, Google announcement

October 6, 2016

Round up #148: review rules tighten, Google announcement

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Here comes Google!

Sure, Google is everywhere…especially up in my business. 😉 I really like my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (even though I have to keep explaining to people that it’s not the Note, which is the one that’s blowing up…and I don’t mean it’s making a lot in sales, it is literally blowing up on some people…or at least, burning up), but I admit I find it a bit creepy when it has a list of places I’ve parked, and asks me if I want to add photos for some place I’ve been. Note that that isn’t Samsung, it’s Google…and I know I could change settings, but I have found it useful sometimes. I don’t have to be completely comfortable with everything which helps me. 🙂

What I mean by my headline here is that Google just make some very big hardware announcements, which do impact Amazon fans.

I’ll say first that the actual announcement venue looked…cheesy, I guess. You can see video here:

YouTube search

The chairs weren’t matched, speakers were dressed very casually, and the audio wasn’t always in sync with the speaker, at least from what I saw. Tech announcements are often very slick, sometimes too slick…but outside of the giant projector screen, this looked like it was hastily done in a warehouse. I suspect that was on purpose, to make it more…approachable.

Amazon doesn’t make its own Fire Phone any more (I was one of the few who had one, until it failed), but I will say that Google’s new Pixel (a brand they’ve used for other hardware) sounds awesome! One point for all devices in the future: they claim to be able to charge your phone for seven hours of use…in fifteen minutes.

Google Home is a direct competitor to Amazon’s

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

Google Home is considerably cheaper than the standard Echo…but more than twice as expensive as the

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

which ships in two weeks.

Google Home may do search better. It may understand your speech better (I’m very impressed with “OK Google”‘s speech recognition…soon to be Google Assistant, as I understand it). It will have Google Translate capability, although that’s quirky. Alexa (the “parse-onality” of the Echo) has some translation skills (skills are like apps for your phone) as well.

It will do some of the things that our Echo devices do…but it won’t do some of the things we like the best. I don’t expect it to be able to reorder Amazon products. I don’t think it’s going to read my Kindle books with text-to-speech (or play Audible audiobooks). It might do those things through apps, but we’ll see.

Competition stimulates innovation, so I’m more than fine with this. I suspect the microphones aren’t as good, but that’s just a guess…still, places where it is better will encourage Amazon to make the Echo better.

I don’t see it as a threat…I see it as a spur. 🙂

Of course, you have to be comfortable with Google having a device in your home which could hypothetically literally listen to every time you flush the toilet. 😉

A more direct impact on Kindle EBRs (E-Book Readers) and Fire devices is

Google Wi-Fi

It’s a cute little hub, looking a bit like the Echo Dot. If it makes Wi-Fi coverage in a home better, that might be a help.

I tried the Amazon locker again, and it was…

great! When I wrote this

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

it had been very frustrating. The concept is really good: I order from Amazon, and they deliver it to a locker at a Safeway near us. We’ve had mail theft, so this is secure and convenient. I get a code, put it in the locker bank screen, and get my item.

The first time, the touchscreen wouldn’t work…can’t do much without it.

This time, it did…so this was a good experience.

Amazon changes review rules…no freebies in exchange for reviews, eligibility to write reviews now tougher

Customer reviews are very important to Amazon…that can make shopping online more informative than shopping in person in a store.

That is, if customers trust the reviews.

I wrote recently that

ZDNet uncovers an apparent massive gaming of the Kindle publishing system

which included manipulated purchasing, but manipulated reviewing has also been a big issue.

Publishers have literally paid people to write reviews for their books…using “Fiver”, for one. That’s not illegal, by the way…there may be some risk of criminal fraud in false reviews, but that’s quite complicated. If I give you a free book if you promise to write a review, that’s not illegal…I haven’t told you what kind of review to write (“wink, wink, nudge, nudge” as Monty Python might say).

One of my readers, Marjorie, commented that Amazon has now said that “freebies for reviews” is not okay…and looking into it, there were some interesting guidelines:

Amazon says that this is not okay: “Offering compensation or requesting compensation (including free or discounted products) in exchange for creating, modifying, or posting content.”

and

“Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”

Community Guidelines (at AmazonSmile*)

and sub-pages.

As I read this, you can give books away, as my sibling did with

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

through this blog (I get no financial benefit from that book…I’m not a publisher of it, or have gotten paid anything for advice I’ve given), and encourage a review (“I’d appreciate a review”) as long as you don’t say that you have to write a review to get a book, or say, “I’d appreciate a good review.”

Another interesting line:

“To post Customer Reviews or Customer Answers, post on Customer Discussion Forums, or submit content to followers, you must have spent at least $50 on Amazon.com using a valid credit or debit card. Prime subscriptions and promotional discounts don’t qualify towards the $50 minimum. You do not need to meet this requirement to post Customer Questions, create or modify Profile pages, Lists, or Registries, or to read content posted by other customers.”

So, gift card purchases don’t count…and you can’t just buy a book and write a review of it, if you’ve never bought anything else from Amazon. That might cut back on some “sockpuppetry”, specifically where someone might set up a bunch of accounts just to buy their own book and write positive reviews.

Overall, I’m okay with this. I don’t mind the reviews getting a bit more filtered. I suppose it could be argued that this will make the reviews tend to be better, since it will have to be Amazon customers who write the reviews…but I think Amazon likes having negative reviews of items, too. While it might cut down on sales, it probably also cuts down on returns and bad feelings, and that’s quite important.

What do you think? Thinking of trying Google Home? Is it a risk for the Echo? Does the amount of time it takes to charge your devices bother you? Are you concerned that the new review rules will end up skewing the reviews towards the positive? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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 whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

September 16, 2016

I had my first experience with an Amazon locker and it was…

…super frustrating! 🙂

The smiley face is there because it ended up okay and I got my packages, and I usually can’t stay frustrated for more than a few minutes.

So, here’s what happened…oh, and I’d better explain what an Amazon Locker is. I wrote about it in more detail here:

Amazon Lockers come to a Safeway near us

You order something from Amazon, and have it sent to an Amazon Locker. Our closest one is in a 24 hour Safeway. Then, you pick it up there.

Why do that?

There are several reasons, but a big one for us is that we’ve actually had Amazon packages stolen that were mailed to our house. We solved that by having packages delivered to my Significant Other’s office…but that’s not a perfect solution. It has to go through central receiving, so we often get it until the day after it was actually delivered. Obviously, if I get home first, I don’t have it. Also, my SO always knows when I’ve ordered something, which isn’t as much fun for gifts.

Setting up the locker thing was easy.

Ordering it was easy (you basically add your locker to your address book).

Finding out that the package was delivered was easy…I got an e-mail and a notification from the Amazon shopping app. The e-mail even has a barcode I’ll be able to scan, in addition to a code I could enter manually.

I’m in a hurry to get home, and the Safeway is pretty much on the way home. I walk with a cane, and I have a nice big bag that slings over my shoulder, so I brought that into the store. Interestingly to me, Safeway doesn’t mind if I put things into the bag while I shop…Whole Foods doesn’t allow it.

I get to the locker and as goofy as it is, I’m really happy to use it. I mean, I seriously was showing people at work a picture I took of the lockers as I tell them about my exciting adventure ahead.

What could go wrong, right?

The touchscreen doesn’t work.

Well, that’s not entirely true. It recognizes my touch to start the process, but after that, it’s hopeless. If I try really hard it may enter one character out of the multi-character code. Sometimes it puts up the wrong code. I can’t even cancel the process.

I figure I might be able to use the scan code instead, so I go to my Amazon shopping app..it’s not in there, as far as I can tell.

I’ve been there for at least a few minutes, and people are staring and smiling. 🙂

I call the number on the machine for help (since the help on the touchscreen won’t respond).

The rep agrees pretty quickly it doesn’t work. I ask where the scan code is…it’s in the e-mail, and nowhere else, apparently.

Fortunately, I have that on my phone…a lot of people would probably have deleted that.

It takes a little maneuvering, but I get the scanner to read.

So, I’m good. It was nice to only have to scan one code to get my two different items from two individual orders. The door popped open automatically on the proper locker…that was also cool. 🙂

The rep wanted me to stay on the line to help the tech fix it, but it was going to be a couple of minutes…and my chronic condition means that standing for a long time is hard. I’d already been standing there long enough that it was difficult.

I explained that to the rep.

Would I use the locker again?

Absolutely!

There are tons of these lockers across the country…the touchscreen thing had to be a fluke. I noticed that the panel that hold the touchscreen seemed like it was ajar…might have been an issue there. Now that I know how to use the scanner, it would be fine without that anyway (as long as it recognizes the touch enough to start and finish the process).

I’ll let you know how it goes next time…

Bonus news: I just wrote about the

All-New Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – White (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the two versions (black and white) are the number 1 and 2 bestselling electronics at Amazon.com! Looks like a hit…I use the 1st generation every day, and I’m quite satisfied with it.

Bonus book item: I like to try to give you a book/book reader story every time, although I don’t always manage it. The Echo Dot can read you books, so that could certainly count, and you could have an EBR (E-Book Reader) or tablet delivered to a locker, but I still wanted to do a little more. 🙂

search for “omnibus” in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

An “omnibus” should be several books which were published separately, and are related in some way, in a single volume. It’s sort of like a short story anthology…except with whole books instead of short stories. 😉 Some of these are highly rated with thousands of customer reviews…and 872 of them (at the time of writing) are available in

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

at no additional cost.

Enjoy!

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

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Do you have what it takes to be a Timeblazer?

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. 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 whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.


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