Sunday, 25 June, 2017

After The Amazon Deal: What Will Shopping At Whole Foods Feel Like?

Amazon to buy Whole Foods Market in deal valued at $13.7 billion Amazon deal for Whole Foods could bring retail experiments
Julia Daniel | 20 June, 2017, 01:15

Amazon sent shockwaves through the business community Friday when it announced its purchase of supermarket chain Whole Foods. SuperValu, with a network of 2,000 stores across the United States, took one of the biggest hits, with a 14% drop on Friday. Kroger, which had been rumored late a year ago to be considering a takeover of Whole Foods, was down 14 percent.

Shares of some major retailers that have entered the grocery world also dropped.

A slew of other retailers' shares also fell on the news, including shares of Kroger Co, Target Corp and Europe's Tesco Plc and Carrefour.

SELYUKH: Outside the Whole Foods in Northeast Washington, the shoppers were broadly pleased with the news - two trusted brands coming together, presumably planning to offer something high-quality and convenient - but then a big-picture step back from Sam Bernstein. On Friday it soared $9.62, or 29 percent, to $42.68, above the $42 a share Amazon agreed to pay. And it should be able to bring cost-cutting technologies, such as robots to move inventory around, while the company gets a better picture of customers by marrying data from Amazon and Whole Foods' loyalty programs.

Amazon is already playing with innovative ways to make grocery store runs more convenient. This is now the internet retailer's largest deal ever, as Amazon is preparing to make its biggest incursion into the brick-and-mortar retail sector of the economy. But the opening of the first store, which was supposed to happen in March, was delayed because of technical issues, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Pressure from activist investors got so high that Mackey told Texas Monthly magazine recently that "they're greedy bastards, and they're putting a bunch of propaganda out there, trying to destroy my reputation and the reputation of Whole Foods, because it's in their self-interest to do so". Whole Foods is courting the discount shopper with its lower cost brand 365.

But despite the Whole Foods acquisition and, by extension, the potential technology Amazon could implement in brick-and-mortar outlets, the company said it now has no plans to automate the jobs of cashiers in Whole Foods stores after the acquisition. The technology, however, could free up employees to talk to customers about products, the same as in the company's brick-and-mortar bookstores, he says.

Other stores are testing out tech-savvy approaches. Shoppers simply pick the items they want off the shelves and leave the store. The investment firm Jana Partners said in April that it had built up an ownership stake in Whole Foods because it saw ways to address its "chronic underperformance for shareholders". These tech solutions are likely to become more common this year, according to the JLL report.

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