Will lessons learned at Amazon Books translate to Whole Foods?
A Wall Street Journal article last week explored whether the learning Amazon has picked up running its Amazon Books stores will be applied to reinvent Whole Foods.
One facet already translating is Prime-membership benefits. At Amazon Books, Prime members pay the same price in store as they would online while non-members pay list price.
In announcing its acquisition of the grocery chain, Amazon said the two companies “will begin to integrate Amazon Prime into the Whole Foods Market point-of-sale system, and when this work is complete, Prime members will receive special savings and in-store benefits.”
With the closing of the deal, the grocer’s store brands — 365 Everyday Value, Whole Foods Market, Whole Paws and Whole Catch — became available through Prime Pantry and Prime Now. Amazon Lockers are also being installed in select stores to enable Amazon customers to pick up or return items.
More consistent pricing online and offline as well as sales of Amazon devices such as Echo are also expected at both concepts.
Seen less likely but possible is bringing dynamic pricing to Whole Foods.
Amazon Books doesn’t display prices. Shoppers scan books with smartphones to see Prime versus list prices. Amazon hopes scanning encourages in-store shoppers to read descriptions and other reviews as well as view personalized suggestions based on their shopping history. The lack of price tags also enables Amazon to change prices based on consumer demand, competitor actions or even the time of day and weather conditions.
Amazon Books’ selections are driven by data, making use of sources such as Goodreads as well as internal selling information. The stores only stock books that have been rated four stars or more on its website. Based on localized data, stores feature a section of books popular online with shoppers in the area surrounding each bookstore. One popular section, “If You Like,” pairs a best-selling book with a suggestion for a similar reading experience.
Amazon is already gleaning data from online sales of Whole Foods’ brands as well as its own online grocery data, but is expected to particularly benefit both offline and online from data gleaned by Whole Foods’ in-store shoppers.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Would Whole Foods benefit from dynamic pricing, user reviews, personalized suggestions and other hallmarks of Amazon’s online experience? What lessons from Amazon Books may be useful in reimagining Whole Foods?