The news that the number one retailer on the internet, Amazon, has bought out the popular health food chain Whole Foods should put other grocery stores and supermarkets on edge.
The online retailer has been expanding into the food and beverage world for a while now with additions like Amazon Pantry allowing you to buy non-perishable items to be shipped to your home; and Amazon Fresh, which allows you to order your groceries online and pick them up at the participating grocer of your choosing.
Now that they have acquired Whole Foods they might have found a way to bring the freshest possible perishables like meats and produce right to your door as well. There is really a lot of potential for Amazon to use their expert knowledge of e-commerce to significantly improve the experience shopping with Whole Foods.
These days, people are busy and rushed and moving at a faster pace than ever – and in everything we do, making it as simple and convenient as possible is top priority. Amazon has dominated in convenience with Prime options like 2 day and in some places even 2 hour delivery.
Streamlined Online Purchases and Home Delivery
The first thing we can probably expect to see changing in Whole Foods once Amazon fully takes over is a much more streamlined payment system. While you will probably still have the traditional option to pay in cash or with your debit or credit card – you will also probably start seeing some integration with the Amazon platform and the Amazon Prime membership.
With the option of being able to order your groceries online and pick them up in store already being available through Amazon in some places (and now through Wal-Mart in some places as well) this will logically be the first step towards integrating the two stores. There are likely to be discounts or special deals for people who hold an Amazon Prime account, just as there are with many other Amazon brand items and select retailers.
Of course, this purchase of Whole Foods also gives Amazon a trusted retailer to base home delivery of fresh produce out of as well. It’s likely that home delivery will be the next step for integrating Amazon and Whole Foods, allowing customers to order online for quick delivery (likely a 2 hour delivery time for Prime accounts and perhaps an order for the next day for regular account holders?). Right now this is just what most are guessing is going to happen – but it really is the logical direction to go.
Could This Mean The Downfall of Traditional Supermarkets?
With Whole Foods having only a few more than 400 locations in the U.S. and about 1,000 new stores in the works the brand has an extremely high notoriety in the healthy and organic foods world. Pairing the growing chain with Amazon could be a big problem for other grocery retailers like Kroger, or Winn-Dixie and even super stores like Wal-Mart and Target.
If they don’t find a way to keep up with the tech savvy Amazon they may find themselves losing customers in the younger generations who crave the convenience of online shopping and home delivery.
Amazon is slowly taking over yet another market by adding Whole Foods to their company. Stores like Wal-Mart and Target essentially now sell everything that Amazon does – and Amazon still sells a lot of other things that you simply wouldn’t find in a more traditional store.
There was clearly a missing component in Amazon’s plan to expand into the food market, and the purchase of Whole Foods is what was missing. The two companies both have a loyal customer base – and both are names that even someone who has never purchased from them is likely to trust – which gives them a big advantage as we move into the future.
Will Whole Foods Become Much More Than a Grocery Store?
There is also speculation that Amazon could branch out even further than simply providing groceries and ready made meals in Whole Foods stores. The idea of cooking classes was thrown around, as was the idea of a “grocerant” which is a grocery store with a restaurant inside. Since some Whole Foods locations already have in-store dining options, this would be another logical direction for Amazon to take with all Whole Foods locations, existing and new.
The truth is, the possibilities for Whole Foods and Amazon integration are nearly endless – and until it happens we don’t really have a clue where the worlds number 1 retailer on the web is going to take their first brick-and-mortar chain. The only thing we can know for sure, is it’s going to change the way we look at and handle buying our groceries on a day to day basis – and is certainly going to be a hard competition to keep up with for smaller grocery store chains.
[Featured Image by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images]