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LeavesNoTrace's avatar

What do you think of Amazon's acquisition of Whole Foods?

Asked by LeavesNoTrace (5663points) June 16th, 2017

How do you think it will ultimately affect consumers?

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17 Answers

jca's avatar

This is the first I’m hearing about it. I’m going to google it now.

Jon_Letko's avatar

Well, I can’t say I’m surprised – the writing was on the wall for this one. Whole Foods has been struggling to adapt to a changing consumer base that tends to value lower prices over bougie, expensive groceries.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been making a major push to get into the grocery industry – the only sector of retail, I might add, that has seen consistent growth in the age of online shopping.

What this means for consumers? I think only the bigwigs at Amazon know the answer to that question. My guess would be a more streamlined shopping process and more competitive prices at Whole Foods stores. If I’m a local grocery store down the street from a Whole Foods, I’m definitely not happy about this move.

The Amazon behemoth continues to grow.

Yellowdog's avatar

Fewer are able to spend money on expensive and high-end items when lower-cost similar natural products are available at a regular grocery store nowadays.

To subsidize the cost of a high-end Grocery it only makes sense that Amazon and other online retailers would be able to boister this enterprise. Amazon makes a killing in profits and can afford to subsidize the Whole Foods experience. As Jom Letko said above. Amazon has wanted to get into the grocery business for a long time.

I do not understand economics well enough to say if they would benefit from lowering their prices a bit, or if they could. But I DO know that free-market retail is slowly being obliterated by online retail, for obvious reasons. Although shipping costs factor in, there is far less overhead expenses

Yes, people are driven to lower prices. You can buy MORE goods if the prices are lower. Why part with more money just for shopping a high-end experience when similar items are at a lower-cost grocer?

live in Memphis. A health-and-organic Farmer’s-market grocery chain called SPROUTS has greatly taken Whole Foods’ target consumer base.

Why? Well, at Sprouts I’d typically spend 27 dollars. As I’d tell the cashier (after realizing how little I spent)—had this been Whole Foods (or “Fresh Market”)—I’d’ve spent One Hundred-and-27 dollars. And that’s no exaggeration.

I know I’m buying quality items—but I can’t help but think the price of the high-end items are grossly inflated—as if paying high prices (for those who can afford it) is part of the thrill or experience of having money and shopping high end.

For instance—would you spend 40 dollars for a small jar of caviar when a virtually identical product is maybe 15—or even 9 dollars at a grocery store or discount grocer like Aldi’s?

If I had tons of money as I thought I did in the past, I might—because it feels really good to pamper yourself (not a diaper reference) with shopping high end and buying costly and healthy luxury items, and knowing you’re saving the planet with fair trade and sound ecological practices. Of course, Sprouts and sometimes even the regular supermarket has similar items that promote similar causes.

But I don’t have that kind of money now. I still eat moderately well and much in the same way I did when I was a regular at Whole Foods. But I’ve come to see Whole Foods as a luxury for the rich or a passion and sacrifice for those less than rich but see it as a sort of ‘cause’ they are dedicated to supporting.

I hope Whole Foods survives, but I can’t afford it.

Jeruba's avatar

I didn’t know about this. It reduces my confidence in Whole Foods as a source of products of a certain kind. I’d expect a trend toward higher turnover (i.e., narrowing of inventory scope to a smaller number of the most popular items) and general loss of quality. Not because Amazon is a bad supplier but because its strength is in availability, choice, and delivery via online systems and not in stocking perishables and interacting personally with customers in a real store. I think they (and we) are better off if they stick to what they’re best at and allow customers to choose among suppliers.

But this seems to be another step on the way to the unification of everything—not in a nice Zenlike sense but in a commercial reversal of the Big Bang, whereby we end up with just one company (and ultimately one owner) that runs everything. The company store in a company town, where the town is the whole world.

I had thought it was going to be Beatrice Foods, but it could well be Amazon.

 
Afterthought: Ok, now I’ve skimmed the article. I’m left with an unclear impression of whether they intend to switch Whole Foods to an online source. Are people really ready to buy lettuce and apples and meat sight unseen? I’m not. If all they’re doing is withdrawing WF from the brick-and-mortar marketplace and going to online orders for home delivery, they’ll certainly lose my business.

DominicY's avatar

I don’t shop at Whole Paycheck very much, especially for regular groceries, but I do enjoy their ready-made stuff. So the only thing I can hope for out of this is that they continue to have the expansive deli they have and all that, since that’s essentially the only part of the store I use when I visit.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I wonder how one can pick meat? If they have a picture of each individual steak then its awesome. I hope that Amazon foods can extend to Canada one day.

LeavesNoTrace's avatar

Personally, I’ve never had much confidence in Whole Foods based on some of the crooked things they do with their employees, their customers, and their vendors. So I share the sentiments of those who are not surprised but also skeptical. Like @DominicY I rarely shop at “Whole Paycheck” unless they are having a blowout sale on something I really want. (I watch the circulars and online presences of all my local grocery stores for good finds). Wish like hell there was a Trader Joe’s in my neighborhood but they are always so crowded in Manhattan. You practically have to engage in hand-to-hand combat with your neighbors over a damn can of peanuts or a six-pack of craft beer.

Also agree with @Jeruba and others about not being keen on buying meat and produce sight unseen.

So yeah…meh.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

When the former Fresh Fields got acquired by Whole Foods, I stopped shopping there. It wasn’t an overt boycott on my part; I simply lost confidence in the store’s products and service. I’ll likely be inclined to return and give the new ownership a chance.

RocketGuy's avatar

I saw an analysis that called it a play for “the last mile”. It would allow Amazon to cheaply ship to a Whole Foods, then have customers to pick up. That would save on UPS costs and package theft. Of course customers have to spend time and gas to get there, but that does not cost Amazon anything.

ragingloli's avatar

Probably to bolster their “Amazon Pantry” ploy. Who cares. They do not even sell RealCocks.

flutherother's avatar

Amazon sells everything online at low prices. Whole Foods sell speciality groceries in actual stores at premium prices. The two don’t seem to match but I’m sure Amazon has a cunning plan.

Amazon has been looking at intelligent stores that charge what you buy to your app as a way of reducing overheads and speeding people through the doors. I can see Amazon developing the Whole Foods stores in this way while using the locations as pick up points for Amazon products and distribution centres for groceries.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Well I don’t shop at Whole Foods, and I don’t own stock in ether company, so it doesn’t effect me one way or the other.

Yellowdog's avatar

Glad you cleared THAT up. I always thought you did!

Yellowdog's avatar

For a while, Sears took on (acquired) the STRUCTURE brand of clothing—which had previously been very expensive in their own stores and, on the rack at least, looked very ordinary (but men usually look really good wearing— not sure how it worked, but it always did)

What had cost $40 or $50 in 1999 was down to $10—$20 by 2002.

I think they quit because, like I said, Structure items rarely looked good on the rack. They just looked better than expected when you wore them.

But not many people meandering through Sears really were that impressed. It was good to have them less expensive for a while.

In a similar vein— I doubt Whole Foods will impress people online.. Shopping in the store itself is what people like to do. And the items, though pricy, seem much higher quality in person

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