Get Tattoos At Whole Foods? Grocery Chain To Explore Addition Of Small Businesses To Boost Engagement And Customer Retention

Soon you could get tattoos at your near Whole Foods store. The grocery chain is looking to add small businesses that will hopefully appeal to the millennial crowd and boost customer engagement.

To broaden its appeal, Whole Foods could soon add tattoo parlors, body-care product sellers, record shops, etc. The chain is desperate to shed the common perception that it is a “wallet-buster.” Adding such small stores within the large complex or on its patios could help Whole Foods stay strong against growing competition from other similar chains like Trader Joe’s or Wal-Mart.

Whole Foods Market Inc. Co-Chief Executive Officer Walter Robb confirmed he is seeking to appeal to younger, budget-conscious shoppers, reported Bloomberg. The chain intends to offer shoppers a perceptually less-expensive option with its “Whole Foods 365” branding. These mini-stores, within the premises or at the same location of the large stores, are set to open later this year. It appears to be an earnest attempt to attract and retain customers on the premises for a longer period of time. Keeping customers engaged could help in enhancing sales. However, these small stores are expected to attract customers to a lot more variety as against just groceries as well.

Whole Foods has chosen to christen the endeavor as “Friends of 365.” The website dedicated to project states the company wants “to partner with start-ups as well as established brands across a variety of categories to help enhance the 365 experience.”

The increasingly competitive organic grocery store business is forcing stores like Whole Foods to think of innovative ways to better monetize the physical locations and properties. While there are limitations to the green goods, there’s no limitation to what other businesses can offer on the premises, which includes such seemingly odd but hugely popular businesses like tattoo parlors that offer to etch tattoos on youngsters while they shop for groceries.

Besides offering even deeper discounts to attract the surprisingly stable and price conscious millennial generation, Whole Foods decided to reinvent itself through a new branding exercise called 365 by Whole Foods Market, reported USA Today. Aimed squarely at millennials and budget-conscious shoppers, the company now needs to find out ways to prevent one brand of stores from cannibalizing the business of the other, reported the Times Picayune.

Whole Foods has had a mixed quarter. While the total sales in the latest quarter rose by 3 percent, when one considers the entire year, a bleaker picture emerges. Sales fell 1.8 percent at stores open more than a year. The company acknowledges that the drop was due to both a decline in the number of transactions and a decrease in “basket size.” The term refers to how much money is spent per transaction. For a store to do well, each customer that walks in needs to clock a high bill to ensure the establishment remains profitable.

Besides mini-establishments like tattoo parlors, Whole Foods also announced it was launching digital coupons within its mobile app. Moreover, the chain’s executives have been tasked with finding more avenues than the present ones to slash prices outside of temporary promotions, said A.C. Gallo, the company’s president.

“There are certain very important categories that we know that we need to be competitive on an everyday basis on and so we are working to systemically identify those and move pricing on those to make sure we’re competitive.”

Whole Foods added 38 stores in 2015 and plans to add about 30 in 2016, including the new 365 outposts. This indicates the chain is slowing down and isn’t harping on expansion as much as it is interested in enhancing the productivity of present locations.

With establishments like Trader Joe’s, Target, Kroger, Wal-Mart, and others competing for customers, could adding such small stores help Whole Foods?

[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]