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Amazon is changing Whole Foods at the speed of Silicon Valley

29 August 2017, 12:57 | Melanie Burgess

Amazon: We're Lowering Whole Foods Prices On Monday

FTC Clears Purchase by Amazon of Whole Foods Market

In a August 24 press release, Amazon and Whole Foods said they would bring "more in-store benefits and lower prices for customers over time as the two companies integrate logistics and point-of-sale and merchandising systems".

As Amazon completes its purchase of the grocery chain, it plans to make Amazon prime the customer rewards program at whole foods stores.

The reason, which the FTC ignored in providing its imprimatur, is that Amazon gives Whole Foods access to an online marketing platform that no other grocery company, even a behemoth like Walmart, can hope to reproduce. These include everything from organic fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken to bananas and organic avocados. Whole Foods earned a reputation for high prices, getting the nickname Whole Paycheck.

According to Wilke, the lower prices are "just the beginning" of the acquisition. About 90 percent of Prime subscribers live within 10 miles of one of Whole Foods' 460 stores.

As noted by several people on Twitter, Whole Foods is now selling slightly discounted Amazon Echos and Echo Dots. The two companies will invent in additional areas over time, including in merchandising and logistics, to enable lower prices for Whole Foods Market customers. But the strategy aligns with Amazon's tendency to leverage its loyal customer base, said Joseph Feldman, senior managing director at Telsey Advisory Group.

"Price was the largest barrier to Whole Foods' customers", Mark Baum, a senior vice president at the Food Marketing Institute, told Bloomberg.

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One of most noticeable changes customers will find is the arrival of Amazon's Echo smart speakers, now available for sale in their local Whole Foods. It could also bring in new consumers who can then be urged to shop for food and other products online. Amazon is known for withholding metrics that could show how well its operations are doing, and Wall Street will be looking for evidence that Amazon is delivering on its vow to improve Whole Foods' margins over time. The company on Wednesday received the green light from the Federal Trade Commission that the deal with Whole Foods had passed the smell test and it was free to proceed with merger proceedings.

The tech giant's $US13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods has sent shock waves through the already changing $US800 billion supermarket industry.

Founded in 1978, Whole Foods Market is the first national "Certified Organic" grocer, bringing in approximately $16 billion in sales a year ago.

Price cuts varied slightly from city to city. "They probably don't want to do anything to jeopardize the quality or brand value of Whole Foods".

"Amazon can come in and price items very low", he said. What the online retailer nearly certainly won't do is undermine the brand equity Whole Foods has built up over decades by lowering the quality of its merchandise.

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