Amazon's Whole Foods deal set to quicken grocery evolution


By acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon immediately becomes a major beer and wine retailer. Online grocery remains at around 2 percent in the U.S. despite 20 years of investment.

Amazon's highest-profile venture into the grocery business is its "Amazon Go" convenience store, which allows shoppers to pick up food and beverage and charge the purchase automatically to their Amazon account without checking out. But even before the deal was announced, grocers were scrambling to adapt to shifting habits.

"This is an natural disaster rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world", said Mark Hamrick with Rumors already have Amazon making drastic changes to the store's format, now focused on organic groceries and prepared goods.

It's also not clear if Amazon will sell the technology to other companies - for the sake of being able to profit off this vertical when the competition's already sealed off from its customers anyways.

Leonard noted his chain is known for free samples and costumed farm animals that walk around stores and greet shoppers. Meanwhile, the more than 460 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom could be turned into distribution hubs - not just for delivering groceries, but also as pickup centers for online orders.

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Feinberg also says Amazon has a test store called Amazon Go in Seattle that is displaying how Amazon does groceries.

Maintaining the right balance will be critical.

The acquisition appears to have been a smart move, as Walmart sales grew 63% during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same period previous year. Whole Foods will keep operating stores under its name.

An Amazon spokesman denied that job cuts are in the works for Whole Foods. Amazon hit a high of US$1,017 and was last up 1.4 per cent at US$1,001.13.

As his company Amazon has been expanding its reach in goods, services, entertainment and groceries - Bezos might take over as the richest person in near future.

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In the meantime, other retailers are getting into the delivery game by teaming up with startups. You point out that 24 percent of millennials bought something from Whole Foods a year ago. That includes Instacart, an online grocery delivery service that partnered with Whole Foods and Costco.

Walmart, which gets more than half its revenue from groceries, has been expanding with its acquisition of a year ago and last week said it was buying online men's clothing seller Bonobos.

Citi's analyst Brian Raymond said that "Whole Foods provides Amazon with a (primarily leased) 460 retail store footprint across 42 U.S. states, serving as distribution points and pick-up locations". Sprouts has about 270 locations in 15 states. The deal has such wide-reaching ramifications that it will impact a number of competitors, investors and companies outside of the grocery business as well. Groceries are a key driver of traffic at Wal-Mart's stores, and the company is working on several ways to ensure that customers continue to visit its outlets for groceries. News of the acquisition sent Amazon's share price up 3.5 percent while shares in other supermarkets dropped, clearly spooked by the news, including Walmart and Tesco dropping six percent each. Deep discounter Aldi has been expanding and its German rival Lidl opened its first US stores this month. They can (bring) pricing pressure.

Amazon has made a huge splash and acquired organic supermarket chain Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. "Retailers need to take note and ensure that they too are providing their customers with the relevant channels for their shopping needs and not run the risk of freezing out customers for failing to do so". Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener says the company has no plans to use such sensors to automate the cashier jobs at Whole Foods. Both Gates and Bezos appear to be heading toward different directions entirely: Gates vowed to give away at least half of his money throughout his lifetime via philanthropy, while Bezos rapidly attempts to expand Amazon's retail business, especially with its purchase of Whole Foods.

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