Tag Archives: Whole Foods

Amazon To Cut Whole Foods Prices, Escalating Grocery Turf War

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) said it will cut prices on a range of popular goods as it completes its acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc (WFM.O), sending shares of rival grocers tumbling on fears that brutal market share battles will intensify.

Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods, which will be completed on Monday, has been hanging over a brick-and-mortar retail sector unsure of how to respond to the world’s biggest online retailer.

Shares of Kroger Co (KR.N), the biggest U.S. supermarket operator, closed down 8 percent, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N), the biggest U.S. food seller, closed down 2 percent.

Amazon also said it will start selling Whole Foods brand products on its website, a move that sent down shares of packaged food sellers including Kellogg Co (K.N).

The S&P 500 Food Retail index closed down almost 5 percent as more than $10 billion was wiped off the market value of big food sellers.

Amazon said members of its $99-per-year Prime shopping club would eventually be rolled into Whole Foods’ customer rewards program and be eligible for special offers and discounts.

“There was never any doubt that Amazon would lower prices, and even offer further discounts in-store to Prime members,” said Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian.

‘LAND GRAB’

Amazon said that starting on Monday it will cut prices on organic grocery staples such as bananas, avocados, brown eggs, farmed salmon and tilapia, baby kale and lettuce, some apples, butter and other products.

“It does not look like they will go kamikaze on pricing,” said Roger Davidson, president of consulting firm Oakton Advisory Group and a former retail executive. “They will lower prices on consequential items to drive traffic and sales but not do a whole store price reduction which could really damage gross margin and potentially wipe out operating margin.”

Lowering prices could stem defections by price-sensitive Whole Foods shoppers, and help the grocer shed its “Whole Paycheck” reputation for high prices that are generally 15 to 25 percent above rivals. It could also bring in new consumers who can then be urged to shop for food and other products online.

“It’s ultimately a nice land grab,” said Bill Bishop of retail consultancy Brick Meets Click, and a way to get customers “thinking about buying healthy food from Amazon.”

FAT PROFITS

The planned price cuts would have been a tough sell to Whole Foods’ investors, who had grown used to fat profits from the upscale chain, but are more in line with Amazon’s broader strategy of sacrificing short-term profit for long-term market dominance.

“Amazon is more focused on driving volume and improving service at the expense of profit margins,” said Sebastian. “Long-term, this strategy works because the absolute profit dollars can still be significant.”

Amazon’s willingness to take lower profit margins ups the ante in the increasingly costly grocery price war.

“In some cases grocery retailers have had to invest between $500 million to $1 billion in order to reduce prices to a level that retained customers and resulted in a net increase in customers,” said Brittain Ladd, who until earlier this year was a senior manager working to globally roll out AmazonFresh, Amazon’s grocery delivery service.

Adding Whole Foods benefits should help Amazon attract more shoppers to its successful Prime scheme, which features two-day shipping for eligible purchases and unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows. Amazon has more than 60 million Prime members, according to analyst estimates.

Whole Foods has rolled out a loyalty program at its smaller, lower-priced 365 by Whole Foods chain, which offers members 10 percent off more than 100 items in the stores. The program is still being tested in the main Whole Foods chain.

Beyond that, some Whole Foods stores will get Amazon Lockers, where customers can receive online orders and make returns.

John Mackey will remain chief executive of Whole Foods and the company will operate as a subsidiary and continue to be headquartered in Austin, Texas, the companies said on Thursday.

Meet Tally: The Grocery Stocking Robot About To Eradicate Tens of 1,000’s of Minimum Wage Jobs

Amazon wiped out billions of dollars worth of grocery store market cap last month when they announced plans to purchase Whole Foods.  The announcement sent shares of Kroger, Wal-Mart, Sprouts, and Target, among others, plunging… (WMT -4%, TGT -5.5%, SFM -7.6%, KR -12%).

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But, as we pointed out back in May, well before Amazon’s decision to buy Whole Foods, Amazon’s success in penetrating the traditional grocery market was always a matter of when, not if.  Concept stores, like Amazon Go, already exist that virtually eliminate the need for dozens of in-store employees which will allow them to generate higher returns at lower price points than traditional grocers.  And, with grocery margins averaging around 1-2% at best, if Amazon, or anyone for that matter, can truly create smart stores with no check outs and cut employees in half they can effectively destroy the traditional supermarket business model.

And while the demise of the traditional grocery store will undoubtedly take time (recall that people were calling for the demise of Blockbuster for nearly a decade before it finally happened), make no mistake that the retail grocery market 10-15 years from now will not look anything like the stores you visit today.

And while the demise of the traditional grocery store will undoubtedly take time (recall that people were calling for the demise of Blockbuster for nearly a decade before it finally happened), make no mistake that the retail grocery market 10-15 years from now will not look anything like the stores you visit today.

So, grocers have a choice: (i) adapt to the technological revolution that is about to transform their industry or (ii) face the same slow death that ultimately claimed the life of Blockbuster.

As such, as the the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out today, the relatively small Midwest grocery store chain of Schnucks has decided to roll out the first of what could eventually be a large fleet of grocery stocking robots.

A slender robot named Tally soon will be roaming the aisles at select Schnucks groceries, on the lookout for out-of-stock items and verifying prices.

Maryland Heights-based Schnuck Markets, which operates 100 stores in five states, on Monday will begin testing its first Tally at its store at 6600 Clayton Road in Richmond Heights. The pilot test is expected to last six weeks. A second Tally will appear in coming weeks at Schnucks stores at 1060 Woods Mill Road in Town and Country and at 10233 Manchester Road in Kirkwood.

The robots are the first test of the technology in Missouri and could ultimately be expanded to more Schnucks stores.

Each 30-pound robot is equipped with sensors to help it navigate the store’s layout and avoid bumping into customers’ carts. When it detects product areas that aren’t fully stocked, the data is shared with store management staff so the retailer can make changes, said Dave Steck, Schnuck Markets’ vice president of IT and infrastructure.

Tally, created by a San Francisco-based company named Simbe, is also being tested at other mass merchants and dollar stores all across the country.

Founded in 2014, Simbe has placed Tally robots in mass merchants, dollar stores and groceries across the country, including some Target stores in San Francisco last year.

“The goal of Tally is to create more of a feedback mechanism,” Bogolea said. “Although most retailers have good supply chain intelligence, and point-of-sale data on what they’ve sold, what’s challenging for retailers is understanding the true state of merchandise on shelves. Everyone sees value in higher quality, more frequent information across the entire value chain.”

The robot does take breaks. When Tally senses it’s low on power, it finds its way to a charging dock. And, the robot is designed to stay out of the way of customers. If it detects a congested area, it’ll return to the aisle when it’s less busy. If a shopper approaches the robot, it’s programmed to stop moving.

Meanwhile, with nearly 40,000 grocery stores in the U.S. employing roughly 3.5mm people, most of whom work at or near minimum wage, Bernie’s “Fight for $15” agitators may want to take note of this development.

Source: ZeroHedge

What Amazon Did To Malls, It Will Now Do To Grocery Stores

Amazon bought Whole Foods today. Widespread carnage in the grocery stock prices followed. Jim Cramer called it a major deflationary disruption saying stores cannot compete.

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“If I was the Federal Reserve, I would have a meeting on this. Inflation is going to go down…. You have to rethink food … Costco knows how to compete. It will be in there tooth and nail with toilet paper and paper towels. … But Kroger, a crisis in Cincinnati, crisis.”

“Major Disruption of Society”

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SupplyChain247 reports Amazon’s Move to Purchase Whole Foods Is ‘Disruption of Society’

TheStreet’s Action Alerts PLUS Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer said Amazon’s move to acquire Whole Foods is a disruption of society, “this is what I regard to be a move by Amazon to destroy the margins and own the business of food and groceries in this country,” Cramer said.

With Amazon putting down $13.7 billion to buy Whole Foods, Bezos is sending a powerful message to his retail rivals;

  • Food suppliers will now be dealing with an even larger grocery store, meaning potentially pressured profit margins for organic players such as Hain Celestial.
  • Amazon officially shows intent to enter bricks-and-mortar retail in a larger way than just bookstores. Combine that with its unmatched digital presence, Walmart, Target and others have been put on notice.
  • Grocer stores like Kroger will now be in an even bigger price war.
  • Amazon Prime integrated into Whole Foods could hurt Costco over time. Many Costco members are also Prime members.

“What Amazon did to the mall, it will now do to grocery stores,” said Cramer.

Here is a Tweet to think about:

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By Mike “Mish” Shedlock