Amazon buys Whole Foods: End or Endorsement of Retail?

So Amazon has just made its biggest acquisition ever. The online giant has bought premium grocer Whole Foods for a whopping $13,700,000,000 – or almost $30 million per store.

So Amazon has just made its biggest acquisition ever. The online giant has bought premium grocer Whole Foods for a whopping $13,700,000,000 – or almost $30 million per store.

The markets didn’t think this was great news for the grocery sector – share prices of all the big players fell both in the US and the UK. And lots of commentators have been warning of Amazon’s fear-instilling motives: they’re entering the ‘food box’ market; they’re drawing affluent consumers further into Prime dependence; and the most popular one: Whole Foods is destined to be purely Amazon’s urban distribution hub to help meet Prime’s super fast delivery promises.

Now this might all be true. But 13.7 billion dollars is a lot of money, and Whole Foods has proven itself to be an innovative, experience-focused retailer with a loyal customer base. So maybe, just maybe, Amazon had a different motive.

Blame it on the heat, but I think I speak for the Western world when I say people are intrinsically lazy. So yes of course the thought of tapping on a laptop from the comfort of my sofa with all my favourites foods appearing in perfect order appeals. But my brain can be as lazy as my body. Menu planning takes effort, and frankly I don’t know what I want to eat on Friday.

Perhaps Amazon understands this human foible and has realised that if they want to take over the world, they need to have a centrally located bricks & mortar presence. And who better to buy than one of the most pioneering retailers in the sector?

From the beginning, Whole Foods reminded its customers that grocery shopping doesn’t have to be a chore. The brand took the energy and friendliness of traditional market shopping and replicated that in-store. With a strong set of values around the products they sold – high quality, natural and fair trade – they created a positive customer experience that reflected that brand promise equally well.

If Amazon is more than an e-commerce website, so too is Whole Foods more than a grocery store – it is a way of life, driven as much by the experience it provides as the products it stocks.

Amazon may have long-term plans to bury every retail store on the planet and confine all consumers to the sofa forever, but in the shorter term let’s thank them for endorsing our industry – and take note that the most successful retailers of the future will be those that give consumers something worth getting off the sofa for.

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MASH Staffing