There are several write ups about Amazon acquisition of Whole Food Markets with everyone attempting to clearly state their own opinion. This is seen from different sectors including pundit specification from industries which is channeled towards an unavoidable disruption of the grocery industry. This is with the primary aim of having an analysis of the Whole Foods price reductions. Joining the choir was my own way of offering my opinion and observation from an industry ecosystem participant perspective.
Whole Foods Stores
Over the years, there have been a scale up in the traffic seen with Whole Foods stores. This was noticed only after the acquisition as well as lower pricing of some selected items. However, vendors, distributors and brokers have sent no reports showing that they are dissatisfied with the internal operational changes. Complaints about the availability and quality of organic produce on the store shelves are becoming quite disturbing and these complaints are received mainly from the Whole Foods shoppers.
Whole Foods Management
There is currently no evidence to indicate a positive change from the perspectives of shoppers or the grocery ecosystem. There are only indications to show that a hands off approach to Whole Foods management was adopted by Amazon as they continue with the implementation of operational initiatives even before acquisition takes place.
Major grocery retailers are already announcing their significant investments into technology. This is with the aim of combating Amazon’s scour for food to their territory. The likes of Kroger have already started to court smaller, regional product brands threatened by Whole Foods abandonment. This may be a good development for nonindustrial food manufacturers, when and if it materializes.
Analysis you would find are only focused on the impact of the Whole Foods changes on publicly traded companies. There are only few write ups about how the food brokers, independent groceries, demo agencies, small batch product manufacturers and merchandisers are affected by the changes. In fact, there are only evidence to show that there is lower foot traffic as well brand promotional activities on the store floors of the aforementioned. However, many grocers we spoke to are in denial that a small grocery eco-system will be materially affected. And that is a mistake.
Thanks to Jeff Bezos's relentless focus on the quality of customer experience, i.e. long term sustainability of Amazon business, everyone assumes that the acquisition will produce some magical result and force a major change in how we buy our food. So far this "earthquake" is yet to produce a tsunami of change. Amazon does not always succeed, but it succeeds most of the time. Change now. Before you have to.
The small and independent grocers can obviously not compete with bigger technological investments, rather they can mobilize partners within their ecosystem to provide a better and more personal experience to their shoppers. This should be their prime focus because Whole Foods sidelines their trade partners who helped them to become successful, independent grocers could use this opportunity to forge closer alliances to provide more engaging shopping experience in their stores.