Tuesday, 21 November, 2017

A new platform for Whole Foods? How deal could upend grocery

Grocery store war comes in Southwest Florida Amazon buying Whole Foods in bold move into brick and mortar
Kelvin Reese | 25 June, 2017, 02:31

Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods last week sent shockwaves through the grocery industry-and now the real estate industry is fired up. Now the deal will likely quicken those efforts.

As Amazon.com Inc looks to swallow USA grocery chain Whole Foods, China's tech giants are already digesting hefty bricks-and-mortar deals, taking the lead in the battle to transform supermarket shopping with big data and better supply chains. The store network adds incremental points of distribution and inventory to facilitate Amazon's Prime Now product, cutting delivery times. Gokki says the effort will force grocery stores to make the shopping process more pleasant and efficient.

That said, Mr. Mackey told his Whole Foods colleagues to expect significant change from a corporate perspective.

At the same time, higher labor costs resulting from minimum wage hikes and a tighter labor market have forced supermarket chains to pay workers more. But activist investors who advocated a sale of Whole Foods also demanded that it cut the number of products it offers to lower its costs.

There are numerous reasons why a Kroger bid for Whole Foods makes sense.

Leonard noted his chain is known for free samples and costumed farm animals that walk around stores and greet shoppers.

"Can a traditional grocery store compete with an Amazon grocery store?"

"We trust them", said Bill Forrest, a shopper at a Whole Foods in Indianapolis. The two companies met on a "blind date" just over six weeks ago, he said, and now find themselves "officially engaged".

Now, however, food is a key piece of Amazon's long-term focus. Food retailing was once more of a distraction for Amazon: their online grocery business, AmazonFresh, is only available in a handful of cities.

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By purchasing Whole Foods, Amazon has waved the white flag on succeeding with only an ecommerce grocery offering. But if customers know that what they are getting is the same as what they'd get at the local store, they are more likely to try it out.

Maintaining the right balance will be critical. Whole Foods locations now have selections of ready-to-eat food, soup and salad bars, she said. By comparison, Walmart has about 4,700 stores, while Kroger has almost 2,800 under a variety of names. Whole Foods' footprint is far smaller with about 440 locations, though those are mostly in urban and affluent neighborhoods where delivery might be more in demand. Walmart is experimenting with other services: some staff deliver groceries on their way home. Instacart, which operates in 69 markets, counts partners including Costco, Publix, Target and Wegman's.

Like most other members of my Frightful Five collection of indomitable tech giants - Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet, Google's parent company - Amazon has experienced a huge growth in its stock market value over the past couple years. By comparison, about one-fifth of all electronics and appliances sales in 2015 were online, according to the report, totaling more than $20 billion that year.

The acquisition is the second-largest US grocery deal on record, according to Elizabeth Lim, senior analyst for Mergermarket.

Walk into a grocery store 10 years from now, and you'll see more prepared meals, personalized recommendations and perhaps even an in-house restaurant.

It's a big game of Monopoly played by only one person. Kroger (KR), Costco Wholesale (COST), Target (TGT), and Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), and fell 9.2%, 7.2%, 5.1%, and 4.7%, respectively, the day the deal was announced. Deep discounter Aldi has been expanding and its German rival Lidl opened its first US stores this month.

Lidl and Aldi's growth plans have put volume and pricing pressure on conventional food providers.

A look at what Amazon is doing to competitor market caps.REUTERS/Ruben Sprich If you needed any further proof that Amazon is shaking the United States commercial landscape to its very core, look no further than the past week. It's also testing the cashierless Amazon Go convenience store, also in Seattle, which has the power to revolutionize the whole industry if the technology behind it proves successful.

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