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jerryking : whole_foods   44

Amazon Wants to Rule the Grocery Aisles, and Not Just at Whole Foods
July 28, 2019 | The New York Times | By Karen Weise.

In early 2017, a memo, “Grocery Shopping for Everyone," circulated inside Amazon that imagined an ambitious new grocery chain........The new stores, the document envisioned, would have robust sections for produce, fresh food and prepared meals. Nonperishable products, like paper towels or canned beans, would be stored on a separate floor, away from customers. Shoppers could order those items with an app, and while they shopped for fresh food, the other products would be brought down in time for check out. There would also be an area to pick up groceries ordered online and to manage packages for delivery drivers......A few months later, in June 2017, Amazon barged into the grocery business in a different way, by announcing a blockbuster deal to buy Whole Foods for $13.4 billion.......The memo and other big grocery proposals stopped circulating inside Amazon, as Whole Foods demanded everyone’s attention.....now, two years later, instead of Whole Foods being the answer to Amazon’s grocery ambitions, it seems to have only whetted executives’ appetites.

The marriage has made clear the difficulties of selling fresh food inexpensively, either in a physical store or through delivery. Bananas are not the same as books....But the combination has also shown glimmers of success, particularly in delivery. And that has provided some fuel to Amazon executives pushing to add another food-selling option — one built from the ground up that would change how people buy groceries.....Amazon is now quietly exploring an ambitious new chain, probably separate from Whole Foods, that is not far removed from the one outlined in the old memo. It would be built for in-store shopping as well as pickup and delivery.....“People really need to understand — Whole Foods is the beginning, it’s not the end,” ......“It’s not everything.”......In an effort to shed Whole Foods’ “whole paycheck” reputation, Amazon bought more from national food distributors and cut back on the local farms......Other price-cutting efforts failed. The former head of a major produce company said Amazon told him it wanted to sell marquee fresh items at low prices every day. The executive said he had to explain that certain products, like berries or lettuce, may be available all year thanks to global supply chains, but that they cost more in the off-season. Forcing flat, low prices would put too much risk on growers.

Amazon executives, the person said, were caught off guard by the response. It didn’t seem as if they had fully appreciated how seasonality made predictable pricing far harder than selling cereal or paper towels.......Amazon has also run into some trouble integrating Whole Foods into its delivery machine.

Amazon never saw delivering cold milk and fragile fruit to doorsteps as something for the masses, according to former employees. Instead, executives thought of it as an option for people who wanted high-quality foods and could afford a premium price to have fragile and fresh items arrive at their doorstep......In theory, that was a good fit for Whole Foods and its affluent shoppers. Within six months, Amazon began making two-hour deliveries from Whole Foods in four cities for Prime members. Six months later, that had expanded to more than two dozen cities. It’s now available in 90.

But Whole Foods stores are not like Amazon’s delivery warehouses. Because Whole Foods sells so many fresh items, its stores have smaller back-of-house areas than a standard supermarket. That means employees who pick products for online orders must gather more items from the same shelves as shoppers. They roam aisles with scanners in hand, asking associates on the floor when they can’t find something......deliveries have shown big potential, making up almost all of Whole Foods’ growth......The promise of serving customers, but doing so more efficiently, has Amazon thinking again about aggressive investment in groceries.

Rather than dramatically substantially expand Whole Foods, .....Amazon is considering designing stores specifically with pickup and delivery in mind, and with a smaller area dedicated to fresh shopping — as the old memo imagined.....Amazon is interested in “creating multiple customer experiences under one roof.”.......Amazon has been looking for spaces close to Whole Foods locations, indicating a hub-and-spoke approach where one store serves as the warehouse and commissary for others.....To be a major grocery player, Amazon would need a little more than 2,000 stores, the old memo estimated. That’s far fewer than the 5,000 run by Walmart, the country’s top grocery seller, but more than the roughly 1,200 operated by Publix. Whole Foods got Amazon about a quarter of the way there.

A store designed with different shopping options......would be “highly scalable.”
Amazon  back-office  BOPIS  grocery  home_delivery  hub-and-spoke  in-store  Kroger  perishables  price-cutting  seasonality  supermarkets  Whole_Foods 
july 2019 by jerryking
America’s Biggest Supermarket Company Struggles With Online Grocery Upheaval
April 21, 2019 | WSJ | By Heather Haddon.

Kroger adjusts operations and invests in technology to hang on to customers who avoid stores; ‘we’ve got to get our butts in gear
Amazon  bricks-and-mortar  BOPIS  CDO  cultural_clash  delivery_services  digital_strategies  disruption  e-commerce  e-grocery  grocery  IBM  Instacart  Jet  Kroger  Microsoft  millennials  Ocado  Oracle  pilot_programs  post-deal_integration  retailers  same-day  Shipt  start_ups  supermarkets  Vitacost  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
april 2019 by jerryking
Amazon to Launch New Grocery-Store Business
March 1, 2019 | WSJ | By Esther Fung and Heather Haddon.

Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities....as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business and touch more aspects of consumers’ lives......The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market chain. It isn’t clear whether the new stores would carry the Amazon name......Amazon in recent years has become increasingly focused on physical retail, posing a threat to traditional grocers. The new chain would help Amazon in fulfilling a yearslong initiative to build out a physical grocery presence, which was at one point potentially envisioned to reach more than 2,000 brick-and mortar stores in a variety of sizes and formats......Amazon is also exploring purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said, that could bolster the new chain......Amazon’s further push into physical retail is its latest move far beyond its origins selling books and music on the web. Over the years it has become a cloud-computing giant, a major player in Hollywood entertainment and a burgeoning provider of logistics services. More recently it has emerged as a major competitor in digital advertising and launched forays in finance and health care......The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with the more upscale Whole Foods stores and will offer a different variety of products, at a lower price point, these people said. Whole Foods doesn’t sell products with artificial flavors, colors, preservatives and sweeteners, among other quality standards.

Suppliers with big brands have hoped to have inroads into Whole Foods since Amazon bought the chain nearly two years ago. While Whole Foods has gradually expanded the big brands it carries—such as Honey-Nut Cheerios and Michelob beer—a conventional grocer can carry a much larger assortment of items. Amazon has had mixed results with its food-delivery business, and it wants to better understand how it can cater to grocery shoppers....Supermarket operators Walmart Inc., Kroger Co. and others are also trying to find ways to offer delivery and pickup to customers in a more cost-efficient manner...Amazon’s new grocery brand also comes as the retailer rolls out its cashierless Amazon Go stores in urban areas. It is testing that checkout technology for bigger retail stores. Meanwhile, Whole Foods is expanding its national footprint....For its new stores, Amazon is targeting new developments and occupied stores with leases ending soon.....Amazon doesn’t want restrictions on the type of goods it may sell at its stores and wants the ability to change the store and sell health and beauty products for instance......It is unclear whether these new stores will be cashierless, but they will be heavily tilted to customer service and pickup capabilities......a strategy where big retailers combine e-commerce with physical stores is the direction the industry is heading.
Amazon  BOPIS  bricks-and-mortar  cashierless  e-commerce  food  grocery  home-delivery  in-store  Kroger  new_businesses  physical_retail  rollouts  supermarkets  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods 
march 2019 by jerryking
Amazon’s Ripple Effect on Grocery Industry: Rivals Stock Up on Start-Ups
Aug. 21, 2018 | The New York Times | By Erin Griffith.

When Amazon bought Whole Foods Market. The $13.4 billion deal shook the grocery world, setting off a frenzy of deals and partnerships that continues to intensify. Traditional retailers pursued digital technology, and online companies reconsidered their relationship with brick-and-mortar retail......“Are technology folks like us going to figure out retail faster than the retailers figure out technology?” [the Great Game] ..... “In some ways we’re all kind of fighting the same fight against the gigantic folks online.”

Food shopping is one of the last major holdouts to online retail. Groceries are unique in that their inventory is perishable, fragile and heavy. Grocery customers often shop at the last minute, like to see the food they are about to eat and don’t want to pay high delivery fees.

Even Amazon, with its Amazon Fresh online grocery service, has struggled to gain ground in the business. The company’s Whole Foods deal, paired with Walmart’s 2016 acquisition of Jet.com, underscored that the future of selling food and household items requires cooperation between the digital natives and the old-school retailers.....Grocery companies “are realizing that with Walmart and Amazon moving at their pace, you need to pick yours up, too,” .... “I wouldn’t call it fear. I would call it a wake-up call.”....... Market research conducted by Morgan Stanley in July found that 56 % of consumers who were likely to order groceries online said they would most likely order from Amazon, compared with 14 % who would go to a mass merchandiser and 10 % who would use their local supermarket. Phil Lempert, a grocery industry analyst, predicted store closings for chains that do not evolve to meet the changing needs of customers. Stores offering curated selections, specialty items, cooking classes and the option to buy online and pick up in person will thrive,......Josh Hix, chief executive of Plated, a meal kit start-up, said the Amazon-Whole Foods deal had immediately changed his discussions with grocery chains. Meal kit companies have a checkered record. But the grocery companies saw an opportunity to use Plated’s data and research on recipes and taste preferences......Most of the big grocers “have wanted to kill us, partner with us, invest in us or buy us — all probably in the course of the same conversation,”......The ownership structure allows Boxed to license its technology to its retail competitors in the United States as they try to become more digital. The company is in talks with 10 or so potential partners for various pieces of its technology. They include mobile app technology, personalization software, a packing algorithm that maximizes space in shipping boxes, software that tracks item expiration dates, order management software and warehouse robotics automation........Grocery delivery is difficult to do affordably, but tech-driven efficiencies like those developed by Boxed, Amazon and others have forced change on the industry.

“Consumers want convenience and will pay more for it,
Amazon  AmazonFresh  bricks-and-mortar  e-commerce  home-delivery  partnerships  retailers  same-day  start_ups  the_Great_Game  Whole_Foods  fulfillment  grocery  supermarkets  ripple_effects  e-grocery 
august 2018 by jerryking
A Year After Amazon Devoured Whole Foods, Rivals Are Pursuing Countermoves - WSJ
By Heather Haddon
June 10, 2018

Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN +0.30% year-old acquisition of Whole Foods is prompting the food industry to retool how it sells fresh food to consumers....The deal has been “shaking up the food industry from top to bottom,” said Angela Spivey, a food-and-beverage attorney at McGuireWoods LLP, who is advising clients on how to quickly change their packaging and marketing to sell at Amazon and Whole Foods. “Don’t be surprised if the milk and cereal just shows up at your door based on your usual eating habits.”

Food retailers, manufacturers and other suppliers have begun to make fundamental changes to their selling strategies, driven partly by stronger sales and delivery from Whole Foods stores since the acquisition.....Grocery chains have accelerated planned investments in online delivery and pickup services, in some cases bumping plans ahead to two- to three-year timelines instead of five to seven years, .......Dozens of supermarkets have struck deals with Instacart Inc., an online grocery-delivery service that has expanded to more than 200 retailers from 30 before Amazon’s deal. .......After Amazon extended discounts at Whole Foods to Prime members—which will help it gather data about shoppers’ preferences—analysts said competitors might need to update their own shopper-loyalty programs. Amazon now offers free, two-hour delivery and additional 10% discounts on several hundred items for Prime members in select areas.

Many food makers are redesigning their packaging and formulas to better sell through Amazon and Whole Foods, placing an emphasis on online repeat purchases instead of impulse buys, industry consultants said......Whole Foods has focused on getting competitive on staples, said Guillaume Bacuvier, chief executive of Dunnhumby, an international retail consulting and technology firm that Whole Foods hired to help improve consumer analytics.
Amazon  Amazon_Prime  BOPIS  contra-Amazon  Dunnhumby  food  grocery  Instacart  perishables  supermarkets  Whole_Foods 
june 2018 by jerryking
Walmart Expands Online Grocery Delivery to 100 Cities - The New York Times
By TIFFANY HSU and NICK WINGFIELD MARCH 14, 2018

“There is a lot of experimenting going on as everyone tries to figure out that last-mile delivery — it’s a tough economic equation to make work,” said Mike Knemeyer, a professor of logistics at Ohio State University. “But if you can, you’ll have a big head start on the others, and you’ll end up making money not just in groceries but on all of the things that you sell.”

The nexus of e-commerce and grocery sales is increasingly appealing to retailers.
Wal-Mart  home-delivery  e-commerce  grocery  supermarkets  Amazon  Whole_Foods  distribution_channels  logistics  same-day  delivery_networks  last_mile 
march 2018 by jerryking
Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future - The New York Times
Jan. 21, 2018 | NYT | By Nick Wingfield

....Amazon’s store of the future hits you right at the front door. It feels as if you are entering a subway station. A row of gates guard the entrance to the store, known as Amazon Go, allowing in only people with the store’s smartphone app......Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket. The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store. Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix. ........Amazon Go, checking out feels like — there’s no other way to put it — shoplifting. ......A big unanswered question is where Amazon plans to take the technology. It won’t say whether it plans to open more Amazon Go stores, or leave this as a one-of-a-kind novelty. A more intriguing possibility is that it could use the technology inside Whole Foods stores, though Ms. Puerini said Amazon has “no plans” to do so.

There’s even speculation that Amazon could sell the system to other retailers, much as it sells its cloud computing services to other companies.
Amazon_Go  Amazon  cashierless  computer_vision  convenience_stores  customer_experience  grocery  machine_learning  one-of-a-kind  supermarkets  retailers  Whole_Foods 
january 2018 by jerryking
Whole Foods changes unlikely to spark Canadian grocery price wars
August 29th | The Globe and Mail | by DAVID FRIEND.

The country's biggest grocers are unlikely to play along with deep cuts by Whole Foods' new owner Amazon in the aisles of its 13 locations across Canada. That's partly because the imminent threat of the high-end chain wouldn't justify the financial hit of reacting with deep discounts, suggested Brynn Winegard, a marketing expert at Winegard and Company.

"Places like Loblaws, Sobeys and Longo's won't necessarily be able to afford that," she said.

"But what you will be looking at is a huge market play towards loyalty."

Winegard expects established chains to lean on their reputations – and points-redemption programs – in hopes of keeping customers from straying to competitors in the short term.

Expect better deals on taking home three bottles of spaghetti sauce instead of two, for example, and more appealing bonus point offers designed to get customers back into stores. Both are generally more affordable, and effective, strategies than deep cuts to a wide assortment of products.

Price wars have a long history of offering Canadian grocers little upside, especially if their profit margins are cut to the bone.......Canadian grocers are misdirecting their attention to storefronts, rather than establishing infrastructure that could go head-to-head in the digital world, Amazon's forte.

"Amazon certainly has the capacity, the capability and the website support to do this – the other stores, like Loblaw and Sobeys, aren't really there yet."
supermarkets  grocery  Loblaws  Sobeys  Longo's  Amazon  Whole_Foods  Canadian  price_wars  loyalty_management  oligopolies 
august 2017 by jerryking
The Retailers That Can Resist the Amazon Onslaught
AUG. 28, 2017 | The New York Times | By JENNIFER SABA.

The Amazon vortex won’t suck in everyone. That’s the verdict of investors in the retail sector.

Among potential competitors to the e-commerce juggernaut founded by Jeff Bezos, some – including Ross Stores, Home Depot and AutoZone – may have the wherewithal to withstand Amazon. The market is conferring on them valuations commensurate with, or better than, the one accorded to Amazon.........The auto-parts chain AutoZone may represent another retail slice that is somewhat resistant to Amazon. The $19 billion company trades at 1.5 times 2020 sales, a recognition that it has created a supply chain that minimizes inventory without crimping a timely ability to fulfill customer orders.

Even in apparel, there are bright spots. At 1.4 times projected 2020 sales, Ross Stores, which sells reasonably priced clothing through more than 1,500 outlets, fetches an enterprise valuation close to Amazon’s. TJX Companies, operator of TJ Maxx and Marshalls, lingers at 1.1 times sales. That’s below Amazon but well above peers like Macy’s and Kohl’s. Bargain hunting may offer some respite from online price choppers...........Once he is done crushing the grocery business, Mr. Bezos may seriously set Amazon’s sights on car parts, cheap clothes and home-improvement accessories. For now, though, the market is betting on a few pockets of calm.
retailers  e-commerce  Whole_Foods  competitive_landscape  contra-Amazon  apparel  Home_Depot  AutoZone  valuations  Amazon  home-improvement 
august 2017 by jerryking
Amazon forecasts quarterly loss as spending spree shows no signs of abating
JULY 28, 2017 | Financial Times | Leslie Hook.

The Seattle-based tech company is now expanding on all fronts: buying the Whole Foods grocery chain, offering new delivery services around the world and racing to open enough data centres to keep up with demand for its cloud computing business.....

Capital expenditure grew twice as quickly as revenue during the period, spending on servers for cloud computing rose 70 per cent and employee headcount jumped 42 per cent.

The figures suggest Amazon is moving towards a more capital-intensive business model with permanently higher headcount and a much bigger physical footprint. This represents a shift from the more streamlined online sales model that relies on big, efficient warehouses to keep costs as low as possible....Amazon’s hiring jump in the second quarter points to a different but equally important shift: Mr Olsavsky said adding sales staff for the company’s advertising and cloud computing divisions were the key reasons behind the rise in headcount, which increased from 351,000 at the beginning of the quarter to 382,400 at the end.

Amazon has been opening a growing number of bricks-and-mortar stores, including a convenience store and two grocery pick-up points, and its purchase of Whole Foods will add hundreds of US stores virtually overnight.....One of the fastest areas of growth was in third-party logistics, as it provides handling services for an increasing array of merchants who sell goods through Amazon. Revenue from these third-party logistics services rose 38 per cent during the quarter to hit $7bn, representing more than a sixth of Amazon’s sales....The growth in that division, as well as intense competition from rivals Microsoft and Google, has pushed Amazon to spend more than $8bn on servers over the past 12 months.

These two divisions — logistics and Amazon Web Services — are two of the fastest-growing in the company but both will require heavy investment to keep on trend.
Amazon  logistics  capital-intensity  Whole_Foods  hiring  capex  AWS  delivery_services 
august 2017 by jerryking
Amazon and Whole Foods: What’s Next? - WSJ
By Laura Stevens
Updated Aug. 10,

The deal poses risks for Amazon.

Change Whole Foods too little, and the company continues to struggle with inefficiencies. Too much change, and it bleeds loyal customers and staff, potentially prolonging a same-store sales decline.

A look back at Amazon’s track record shows it is largely hands-off with its acquisitions, except in some cases where it has bought a company for scale or to remove a rival.
Amazon  Whole_Foods  post-deal_integration 
august 2017 by jerryking
Big Prize in Amazon-Whole Foods Deal: Data - WSJ
By Laura Stevens and Heather Haddon
June 20, 2017

The deal for Whole Foods Market Inc., which people familiar with the matter said came together quickly, presents Amazon with several potential gains. It could use the stores as distribution hubs to build out its online grocery-delivery business. Amazon also could stock gadgets such as its Kindle e-readers and Echo speakers, as well as goods from its burgeoning private label.

The bigger opportunity, though, is data.

Amazon for years has been looking for more ways to gather information about how consumers shop. It has long been rumored to be on the prowl for a breakthrough deal, even as it set up its own much smaller Amazon Go and AmazonFresh Pickup stores as experiments.

If the deal goes through, the combination likely will be powerful. Amazon and Whole Foods can join their online and in-store knowledge to better predict what goods to carry in each store, said James Thomson, a former senior manager in business development at Amazon and now partner at the brand consultancy Buy Box Experts.....One enticing aspect of a deal between Amazon and Whole Foods is the significant overlap, analysts say, between the companies’ traditionally loyal customer bases.

A Morgan Stanley survey shows about 62% of Whole Foods shoppers are members of Amazon’s Prime service, opening the door for cross-sell promotions to entice customers who shop at both to spend more.

Amazon, though, doesn’t know how those customers shop in stores—a gaping hole in data about its more than 300 million shoppers.....Amazon has had a more difficult experiment with Amazon Go, its convenience-style store in which customers scan their phones as they walk in, pick up items to purchase and exit without a traditional checkout. The public opening has been delayed, in part because of technological hurdles and Amazon’s limited experience in managing the flow of customers and products in a physical space....

.......The data Amazon collects will likely help it decide which of its growing roster of private-label brands to expand and which new ones to launch, especially when it comes to consumables and food. Whole Foods already has a large private-label business...Bringing together online and offline data can help Amazon learn how to entice customers to make more impulse purchases online, according to analysts and retail consultants.
data  omnichannel  Amazon  Whole_Foods  physical_space  private_labels  impulse_purchasing  Amazon_Go  AmazonFresh  experimentation  cashierless  Amazon_Prime  cross-selling  in-store 
june 2017 by jerryking
Conglomerates Didn’t Die. They Look Like Amazon. - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin
DEALBOOK JUNE 19, 2017

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods re-opens the debate about conglomerates which supposed to be dead, a relic of a bygone era of corporate America as investors supposedly want smaller, nimbler, more focused companies......Amazon is just one of several digital-economy conglomerates. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is another. Facebook is quickly becoming a conglomerate, too...... today’s tech-enabled conglomerates, are spending, and often losing, tens of billions of dollars annually on all sorts of projects and acquisitions that may or may not turn out to be successful. But investors are seemingly willing to give these new behemoths a free pass in the name of growth and innovation — until they aren’t.

If there is any lesson from the last breed of industrial conglomerates, it is that there is a natural life cycle to most of them....When it comes to Amazon (or Alphabet, or any of the new conglomerates), the question is whether there is something fundamentally different about these businesses given their grounding in digital information — especially as they expand into complex brick-and-mortar operations like upscale supermarkets.

In an age of big data and artificial intelligence, are businesses that look disparate really similar? And can one company’s leadership really oversee so many different businesses? When does it become too big to manage?...a recent article in the Yale Law Journal made a compelling case that Amazon has built perhaps the ultimate economic mousetrap — one impervious to the natural life cycle of a conglomerate, but one that might ultimately prove to be anticompetitive.

The author, Lina M. Khan, a Yale Law student who has written about antitrust law and competition policy, argued that Amazon had created a “platform market” and can use its size and scale to subsidize its entrance into new businesses through predatory pricing.....The economics of platform markets create incentives for a company to pursue growth over profits,.....Amazon’s role as both a distributor and cloud provider for many of its competitors gives it an unfair advantage. “This dual role also enables a platform to exploit information collected on companies using its services to undermine them as competitors,”.....Jeff Bezos, is clear. The man who is assembling the 21st century’s most fearsome new conglomerate once explained his view of competition this way: “Your margin is my opportunity.”
conglomerates  Andrew_Sorkin  Jeff_Bezos  Amazon  GE  Jeff_Immelt  unfair_advantages  Whole_Foods  Silicon_Valley  digital_economy  Alphabet  Facebook  lessons_learned  Yale  Charles_Munger  antitrust  competition  Berkshire_Hathaway  platforms  predatory_practices  diversification  FTC  margins  staying_hungry  life_cycle  Lina_Khan  competition_policy 
june 2017 by jerryking
The Amazon-Walmart Showdown That Explains the Modern Economy - The New York Times
Neil Irwin @Neil_Irwin JUNE 16, 2017

The decision by Amazon and Walmart to compete for my grocery business — as well as for space in my closet — is a tiny battle in a war to dominate a changing global economy.

And for companies that can’t compete on price and technology, it could cost them the shirt off their backs.....[Amazon's purchase of high-end grocery chain Whole Foods places it] on a collision course with Walmart to try to be the predominant seller of pretty much everything you buy.

Each one is trying to become more like the other — Walmart by investing heavily in its technology, Amazon by opening physical bookstores and now buying physical supermarkets. But this is more than a battle between two business titans. Their rivalry sheds light on the shifting economics of nearly every major industry, replete with winner-take-all effects and huge advantages that accrue to the biggest and best-run organizations, to the detriment of upstarts and second-fiddle players.....in turn...this has more worrying implications for jobs, wages and inequality.

Amazon vs. Walmart

Both want to sell everything!!!!

Walmart is buying Bonobos, an omnichannel innovator. Its website and online customer service are excellent, and it operates stores in major cities where you can try on garments and order items to be shipped directly. Because all the actual inventory is centralized, the stores themselves can occupy minimal square footage. The acquisition helps Walmart build expertise in the very areas where it is trying to gain on Amazon.

Walmart and Amazon have had their sights on each other for years, each aiming to be the dominant seller of goods via omnichannel.

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods helps it to understand the grocery business which has a whole different set of challenges from the types of goods that Amazon has specialized in heretofore.

A Positive Returns-to-Scale World
The apparel business has long been a highly competitive industry in which countless players could find a niche.....any shirt-maker that tried to get too big rapidly faced diminishing returns.It would have to pay more and more to lease the real estate for far-flung stores, and would have to outbid competitors to hire all the experienced shirt-makers. The expansion wouldn’t offer any meaningful cost savings and would entail a lot more headaches trying to manage it all....in the digital economy, rather than reflecting those diminishing returns to scale, show positive returns to scale: The biggest companies have a huge advantage over smaller players. That tends to tilt markets toward a handful of players or even a monopoly....The apparel industry...is moving in the direction of being like the software business (high fixed costs, zero variable costs, enormous returns to scale)..... the reason why Walmart and Amazon are so eager get into the shirt business is because retailers know that they need to figure out how to manage sophisticated supply chains connecting Southeast Asia with stores in big American cities so that they rarely run out of product. They need mobile apps and websites that offer a seamless user experience so that nothing stands between a would-be purchaser and an order....Larger companies that are good at supply chain management and technology can spread those more-or-less fixed costs around more total sales, enabling them to keep prices lower than a niche player and entrench their advantage....large companies will invest in automation/robotics...the future of clothing/apparel might be a handful of companies with the very expensive shirt-making robots---and everyone else shut out in the cold.

What It Means for the Economy

A relative few winners are taking a disproportionate share of business in a wide range of industries....in turn may help explain why the income gap has widened in recent years. How much on income inequality is driven by shifting technology — as opposed to changing corporate behavior, or loose antitrust policy — is an open debate.
increasing_returns_to_scale  winner-take-all  fixed_costs  variable_costs  Amazon  Wal-Mart  Whole_Foods  retailers  economics  Bonobos  shirts  mens'_clothing  omnichannel  apparel  digital_economy  automation  robotics  competitive_landscape  market_concentration  barbell_effect  income_inequality  antitrust  market_power  corporate_concentration  grocery  fresh_produce  supermarkets  large_companies  UX  inventory-free  global_economy 
june 2017 by jerryking
Amazon shakes up grocery sector with $13.7-billion Whole Foods deal - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Jun. 16, 2017

Amazon’s latest planned takeover “is a testament to the digital disruption of the grocery landscape,” Mr. Allison said, noting the acquisition “brings together a combined strength in digital and brick and mortar.”

Fresh foods have been a critical battlefield for grocers as consumers have increasingly shifted their spending to fresh from processed fare in a bid to eat healthier, industry experts say. And 75 per cent of consumers prefer to purchase fresh foods in person rather than online, Nielsen data show. Now Amazon will try to steal that growing but lucrative portion of the business from incumbents with the help of the acquisition, industry watchers said.

Even restaurant operators will feel the pinch of Amazon’s takeover of Whole Foods, which has a $3-billion restaurant business. Indeed, the acquisition “is a seminal moment in the world of eating,” said David Palmer, retail analyst at RBC Dominion Securities.

Amazon is speeding up its delivery capabilities in select markets to as fast as one hour, Mr. Palmer noted. “The combined company is poised to become a category killer in the home meal solution business,” he said.
Sylvain_Charlebois  Marina_Strauss  prepared_meals  grocery  supermarkets  seminal_moments  Whole_Foods  Amazon  e-commerce  retailers 
june 2017 by jerryking
Amazon to Buy Whole Foods for $13.7 Billion - WSJ
By Austen Hufford
Updated June 16, 2017

While grocery accounts for a large component of consumer sales overall, online retailers have largely been unable to fully crack the code. They face hurdles like consumers wanting to pick their own produce and the need to deliver fresh and frozen food to people’s homes.

Adding a network of grocery stores could help Amazon tackle those issues. Whole Foods has roughly 450 locations spread out across 42 states. The move could allow Amazon to reach customers closer to their homes and even sell more than just groceries. Amazon’s bookstores also sell its electronic products like book readers, tablets and media streaming devices.
Whole_Foods  Amazon  grocery  supermarkets  fresh_produce  AmazonFresh 
june 2017 by jerryking
An Activist Investment in Whole Foods Exposes Shifting Power on Wall St. - The New York Times
APRIL 25, 2017 | NYT | By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON.

Neuberger Berman has eschewed its nearly 80-year-old tactic of playing nice (i.e. buy and hold stocks, sit back, and hope for the best), turning to the bare-knuckled world of activist investors made famous by the likes of Carl C. Icahn and William A. Ackman. Last year, as Neuberger Berman’s roughly $200 million investment in Whole Foods Market languished, the firm quietly approached some hedge funds and urged them to agitate for change at the high-end grocer. Two weeks ago, Jana Partners took up the fight......Neuberger Berman’s behind-the-scenes campaign to shake up Whole Foods is the latest example of a dynamic that is upending relations between public companies and the big investors that own their stock.....a reflection of the shifting balance of power on Wall Street....Traditional money managers in search of market-beating returns are demanding a seat at the table, turning to activists for help and even employing some hedge fund tricks of their own. And activists, once the black sheep of the investment world, are now accepted as regular, if meddlesome, investors. ....[Activist investors], she added, “[are an] important ‘check and balance’ on management that has lost its way.”....Neuberger Berman executives prepared an inch-thick presentation--a thorough critique--the kind of document usually produced by activists.....failures in how Whole Foods handled its brand development, and to what it said were customer service deficiencies and a poor strategy for distribution......Relations between institutional investors and activists have evolved in recent years, and it is not unheard-of for big investors to support activists who have set their sights on a high-profile company. ..... be careful of what you wish for, Neuberger Berman discovered that utilizing board seats on an underperforming portfolio company can be "expensive and time-consuming.”.....it is less common for an institutional investor to share its work on a specific target with activists in the way Neuberger Berman did with Whole Foods....There is even a term for the interplay: “R.F.A.s” or “requests for activism.”....Institutional investors do not make investments predicated on an activist showing up.
Wall_Street  money_management  shareholder_activism  beat_the_market  hedge_funds  Whole_Foods  Jana_Partners  Neuberger_Berman  institutional_investors  checks_and_balances  Carl_Icahn  William_Ackman  boards_&_directors_&_governance 
april 2017 by jerryking
Whole Foods to Close All Three Regional Kitchens - WSJ
By ANNIE GASPARRO and JESSE NEWMAN
Updated Jan. 25, 2017

Whole Foods Market Inc. is closing its three commercial kitchens, where it makes ready-to-eat meals for stores, including one location which received a regulatory warning about food safety violations last year.

The decision to outsource the food preparation, which was announced to employees last week, comes as Whole Foods works to cut costs by centralizing certain functions and reducing its workforce. ...to streamline operations, we have decided to leverage the expertise of our supplier network to create some of the high-quality prepared foods sold in our stores...Supermarkets across the sector are offering more prepared meals, with some even opening sushi restaurants and wine bars inside their stores. Fresh prepared foods generated $15 billion in sales in supermarkets in 2005, a figure that has nearly doubled to about $28 billion last year, according to Technomic, a food industry research firm.

But the explosion of prepared meals has brought new food-safety issues.
Whole_Foods  grocery  commercial_kitchens  supermarkets  food_safety  product_recalls  Outsourcing  prepared_meals  FDA  centralization  high-quality 
january 2017 by jerryking
Discount wars push Canada’s mid-priced grocery stores upscale - The Globe and Mail
MARINA STRAUSS - RETAILING REPORTER
MISSISSAUGA — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Apr. 15 2014,
supermarkets  grocery  retailers  Loblaws  Longo  Whole_Foods  gourmands  gourmet  foodies  Eataly 
june 2014 by jerryking
Whole Foods' Battle for the Organic Shopper - WSJ.com
Aug. 21, 2013 | WSJ | By Julie Jargon.

"The recession was a wake-up call for us," said co-Chief Executive Walter Robb in an interview.

One of the chain's latest initiatives: nationwide "flash" sales on specific items promoted on Twitter and Facebook FB -0.02% that run for just a few hours, like a five-hour buy-one-get-one-free deal on ice cream last month. The chain also is increasing one-day sales on items like salmon, blueberries and organic chicken to 17 this fiscal year, from 14 last year.

Whole Foods long avoided such supermarket tactics, thriving instead on a pricey mix of products that appealed to clientele in upscale neighborhoods of large cities where most of its approximately 350 stores are located. High prices on everything from meat to vegetables led critics to quip that shopping at Whole Foods would eat up a middle class earner's whole paycheck....Mr. Robb last month told investors the chain is going to engage in "more aggressive price matching against select competitors," and said price reductions and promotions could start "nipping gross margins a little bit."

The strategy carries other risks. Jim Hertel, managing partner at Willard Bishop, a food retail consulting firm, said grocers who rely on short-term gains from discounts can feel compelled to "up the dosage of deals" to keep sales growing. "When you do that you suddenly start to promote so much that you take sales out of the store because everything is on discount," he said. "Customers get trained not to buy on full price."

Deals also can attract new customers who don't buy more than the item on sale and don't necessarily return, defeating the purpose—a phenomenon Mr. Hertel calls "rent a customer."
Whole_Foods  organic  grocery  supermarkets  discounting  social_media  flash_sales  merchandising 
october 2013 by jerryking
Disruptions: Silicon Valley's Next Stop: The Kitchen - NYTimes.com
October 20, 2013, 11:00 am 1 Comment
Disruptions: Silicon Valley’s Next Stop: The Kitchen
By NICK BILTON

...“Unlike other industries in technology, where people can carry patents and protect their ideas, the majority of the food industry doesn’t have that,” Mr. Manuel said. “So if you come along with a great idea and it starts to become really successful, then someone else can just come along and copy it.”
Silicon_Valley  food  start_ups  Whole_Foods 
october 2013 by jerryking
Boss Talk: Hershey Works on Portion Control - WSJ.com
September 17, 2013 | WSJ | By LESLIE JOSEPHS.

Boss Talk: Hershey Works on Portion Control Big Time
Hershey CEO Discusses New Markets, New Products and Social Responsibility
Hershey  CEOs  confectionery_industry  chocolate  Whole_Foods  CSR 
september 2013 by jerryking
Natural foods: A diet that could help your portfolio - The Globe and Mail
DAVID MILSTEAD

DENVER — Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Jun. 07 2013,
grocery  retailers  organic  investing  food  supermarkets  Whole_Foods 
june 2013 by jerryking
Yes, Healthful Fast Food Is Possible. But Edible?
April 3, 2013 |- NYTimes.com | By MARK BITTMAN

After the success of companies like Whole Foods, and healthful (or theoretically healthful) brands like Annie’s and Kashi, there’s now a market for a fast-food chain that’s not only healthful itself, but vegetarian-friendly, sustainable and even humane. And, this being fast food: cheap. “It is significant, and I do believe it is coming from consumer desire to have choices and more balance,” says Andy Barish, a restaurant analyst at Jefferies LLC, the investment bank. “And it’s not just the coasts anymore.” ...What I’d like is a place that serves only good options, where you don’t have to resist the junk food to order well, and where the food is real — by which I mean dishes that generally contain few ingredients and are recognizable to everyone, not just food technologists....In recent years, the fast-food industry has started to heed these new demands. Billions of dollars have been invested in more healthful fast-food options, and the financial incentives justify these expenditures. About half of all the money spent on food in the United States is for meals eaten outside the home. And last year McDonald’s earned $5.5 billion in profits on $88 billion in sales. If a competitor offered a more healthful option that was able to capture just a single percent of that market share, it would make $55 million. Chipotle, the best newcomer of the last generation, has beaten that 1 percent handily. Last year, sales approached $3 billion. In the fourth quarter, they grew by 17 percent over the same period in the previous year.

Numbers are tricky to pin down for more healthful options because the fast food industry doesn’t yet have a category for “healthful.”...Chipotle combines the best aspects of Nouveau Junk to create a new category that we might call Improved Fast Food. At Chipotle, the food is fresher and tastes much better than traditional fast food. The sourcing, production and cooking is generally of a higher level; and the overall experience is more pleasant. The guacamole really is made on premises, and the chicken (however tasteless) is cooked before your eyes. It’s fairly easy to eat vegan there, but those burritos can pack on the calories. As a competitor told me, “Several brands had a head start on [the Chipotle founder Steve] Ells, but he kicked their [expletive] with culture and quality. It’s not shabby for assembly-line steam-table Mexican food. It might be worth $10 billion right now.” (It is.)

Chipotle no longer stands alone in the Improved Fast Food world: Chop’t, Maoz, Freshii, Zoës Kitchen and several others all have their strong points. And — like Chipotle — they all have their limitations, starting with calories and fat.
...Veggie Grill, Lyfe Kitchen, Tender Greens and others have solved the challenge of bringing formerly upscale, plant-based foods to more of a mass audience. But the industry seems to be focused on a niche group that you might call the health-aware sector of the population. (If you’re reading this article, you’re probably in it.) Whole Foods has proved that you can build a publicly traded business, with $16 billion in market capitalization, by appealing to this niche. But fast food is, at its core, a class issue. Many people rely on that Tendercrisp because they need to, and our country’s fast-food problem won’t be solved — no matter how much innovation in vegan options or high-tech ovens — until the prices come down and this niche sector is no longer niche. ...Soda consumption is down; meat consumption is down; sales of organic foods are up; more people are expressing concern about G.M.O.s, additives, pesticides and animal welfare. The lines out the door — first at Chipotle and now at Maoz, Chop’t, Tender Greens and Veggie Grill — don’t lie. According to a report in Advertising Age, McDonald’s no longer ranks in the top 10 favorite restaurants of Millennials, a group that comprises as many as 80 million people.
Lyfe_Kitchen  Mark_Bittman  fast-food  Burger_King  Chipotle  plant-based  vegetables  fresh_produce  vegan  McDonald's  social_classes  perishables  Whole_Foods  millennials  fast-casual  new_categories 
april 2013 by jerryking
AHEAD OF THE TAPE: Organic Growth Limited, Even at Whole Foods - WSJ.com
February 12, 2013, 6:41 p.m. ET

Organic Growth Limited, Even at Whole Foods

By SPENCER JAKAB
growth  Whole_Foods  grocery  supermarkets 
february 2013 by jerryking
Innovation in Private-Label Branding
Spring 2005 | Design Management Review | by Charlie Conn, Director of Branding, Proteus, Boston.

Success in private-label branding boils down to a retailer’s ability to build a brand and control and manage it on a local level to create relationships with consumers....others see innovation coming from the
private-label brands. By creating unique brand experiences for consumers, such retailers as Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, and Trader Joe’s have created truly innovative brands that encourage repeat purchases. From a private-labeling perspective, Starbucks is innovative because it provides exclusive,exclusive, private-label products that are in line with the lifestyle experience it has created. Starbucks reached the pinnacle of success in this area when
one of its exclusive private-label music CDs, “Ray Charles: Genius Loves Company,” won Album of the Year at the 2005 Grammy Awards,
after being nominated in 10 categories. This and other exclusive products contribute to the emotional benefits experienced by Starbucks’ customers, and as a result they contribute to the
bottom line. Private-label branding has been most prevalent
in supermarkets and drug chains. According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association, supermarkets rang in $42.9 billion in sales of store brands in 2003, representing 16.3 percent of overall sales.2 Drug chains reached an all-time high of $3.8 billion in store brand revenues that same year.3 In both sectors, growth of private label brands exceeded the growth of manufacturer brands....

“I’m not sanguine about the major supermarkets,” says Richard J. George, professor of food marketing at the Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. “To be successful, supermarkets need to look to customers to determine the set of needs that can be uniquely satisfied. Brands are more than products on the shelf (national brand or private label.) Retailers are brands and need to focus on what the customer wants and how the retailer can positively differentiate the brand. It’s all about customers, not products. Retailers need to think like a brand and act like a retailer.”...A brand is more than just a name and logo. It’s a set of associations that lives in the consumer’s mind—the sum total of everything the brand represents for that consumer. To fully understand what a brand stands for—private-label or otherwise—retailers need to ask themselves:
• How appropriate is the brand?
• What makes it unique?
• Who are the target consumers?
• What functional, rational, and emotional
benefits does it offer consumers?
• How adaptable is it?
• Is it protectable?
Based on understanding these brand attributes, retailers can put some definitions around their positioning statements.
innovation  private_labels  branding  design  retailers  Starbucks  Whole_Foods  supermarkets  Trader_Joe's  brands  strategic_thinking  positioning 
august 2012 by jerryking
The Growing Cachet of the Store Brand - New York Times
By ELIZABETH OLSON
Published: November 27, 2005

Store brands now account for 16.1 percent of total supermarket purchases, worth $40.5 billion annually, up from 14.9 percent, worth $31.2 billion, in 1995, according to Information Resources of Chicago, which collects supermarket scanning data.

But Mr. Sharoff of the private-label association says the market shares of store brands could be twice that 16 percent figure because big-box retailers like Costco and Wal-Mart and specialty stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods did not report sales totals for their own labels. Some chains are offering more than one in-house brand. Safeway, for example, has created a signature brand of beef, Rancher's Reserve, and has been heavily promoting the brand to compete with higher-priced national brands.
private_labels  supermarkets  Whole_Foods  Trader_Joe's  big-box  retailers 
july 2012 by jerryking
Deliverance
July/August 2006 |ATLANTIC MAGAZINE|By Corby Kummer.

The future of shopping for fresh fruits and vegetables
organic  shopping  future  fruits  vegetables  farmers'_markets  online_groceries  supermarkets  Whole_Foods  shopping_experience  locavore  e-commerce  CSA  warehouses  FreshDirect 
july 2012 by jerryking
How Super Is Your Market? - WSJ.com
March 1, 2005 | WSJ | By ADAM HANFT.

"I'd have to say that there are several intersecting explanations for the deep crisis gripping the supermarket category.

Industries are self-selecting in terms of the leadership they attract, and the grocery industry has long been populated by conservative management that is resistant to change and innovation. They took their customers for granted, and relied on manufacturers to innovate with new products, seeing themselves as basically commodity transaction points whose responsibility was to stock the shelves, mist the lettuce, and collect the carts from the parking lot.

This lack of marketing sophistication and a consumer-driven approach screams at us from the entire supermarket buying experience. (What other industry rewards those who spend less, which is what the 10 items or less Express Lane does?)

Food shopping should be a variety of entertainment, which is something that Whole Foods understands. Its merchandising should combine elements of adventure and discovery in a tactile and sensual environment. But consider the clinical drabness of the supermarket, and think how long it's been that way: Step inside your average supermarket, if you wanted to convince yourself that you're in 1964 instead of 2004, you could. Meanwhile, retailers in general -- from Old Navy to even Home Depot -- have defined the shopping experience for stimulation-craved, ADD shoppers.

Another massive failure is that supermarkets don't invest in building their brand -- their marketing is entirely price-driven. "
supermarkets  bankruptcies  Winn-Dixie  Nielsen  leadership  marketing  price-driven  self-selecting  Whole_Foods  shopping  shopping_experience  grocery  customer_experience 
july 2012 by jerryking
Eco-friendly the lure for Reisman's new stores
September 19, 2008 | Globe & Mail | By MARINA STRAUSS.

Ms. Reisman also took inspiration from Mickey Drexler, a Wall Street darling and former head of clothier Gap Inc., who is now CEO of J. Crew Group, on whose board of directors Ms. Reisman sits. "What I learned from Mickey is: You have to have a point of difference and you have to have a real passion for what you're trying to do. Second, you're not going to get it all right, which I knew from experience."
eco-friendly  spin-offs  Marina_Strauss  green  retailers  Indigo  Whole_Foods  Heather_Reisman  Mickey_Drexler 
june 2012 by jerryking
Austin's affordable hardware helps its shopkeepers take on Manhattan
28-Sep-2005 | Financial Times | By Dan Roberts. Online article title "Austin's affordable hardware helps it take on New York".
affordability  Austin  Texas  Whole_Foods  cheap_revolution  traceability  tracking  small_business  start_ups  databases 
october 2009 by jerryking

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