whole foods queue amazon

Retail

Amazon x Whole Foods: Shaking Up Grocery Shopping

Lara Williams

Lara Williams, Editor-at-large

Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is the start of a revolution that will change your weekly food shop forever.

For over two decades, Amazon has been changing the way we shop for just about everything and now it seems they’re gearing up to disrupt our grocery shopping too.

Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7billion, announced on Friday, could see the start of another revolution in shopping – but how?

“We can only imagine the technological innovation that Amazon will bring to the purchasing experience.”
whole foods queue amazon

Queueing could be a thing of the past in Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores. Source: manrepeller.com

Online Shopping to Drone Delivery

Forgoing bricks & mortar, when it first launched in 1994 Amazon enabled us to shop cheaply for books from the comfort of our own homes, without having to interact with anyone.

Now it’s the ultimate everything-store, with technological innovations satisfying consumers’ need for convenience and instant gratification at the same time.

Buying household products, for example, is as easy as asking for virtual butler Alexa to order some more loo roll, or hitting your Whiskas Dash button when you run out of cat food. Once you’ve placed your order after lifting a maximum of one finger, your order could be with you as quickly as two hours later and, with the development of drone delivery, this could eventually be cut-down to as little as 30 minutes.

So does this mean your organic kale and raw vegan cupcakes might be delivered by drone in the future? Quite possibly.

The Future for Wholefoods

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at bankrate.com told CNBC: “This is an earthquake rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world. We can only imagine the technological innovation that Amazon will bring to the purchasing experience…we can see in hindsight that its recent dithering around the brick-and-mortar experience was only a rumbling of the seismic event in the offing.”

Amazon has dabbled in then grocery sector before, launching AmazonFresh in the UK last year and opening a concept grocery store in Seattle.

While AmazonFresh attempted to capitalise on the popularity of online supermarket shopping, Amazon Go is a complete disruption of the bricks-&-mortar shopping experience.

Using the same technology you’d find in a self-driving car, Amazon developed what they’ve coined Just Walk Out Technology and got rid of checkouts completely.

After scanning a personal QR Code at the entrance, sensor fusion, computer vision and deep learning algorithms work together to figure out what you’ve put on your basket. It even recognises if you’ve changed your mind and put a product back.

When you’re done, you can simply walk out and the app will automatically charge your Amazon account.

amazon go

Source: Amazon.com

While only available in Seattle to Amazon employees at the moment, Amazon sparked rumours that they’d be launching more Go stores in the UK after they filed several trademark applications to the UK Intellectual Property Office.

If the “No Queues, No Checkout (No, Seriously)” concept did come to the UK, Amazon could save a lot of time by rolling it out in the nine Whole Food stores already operating here.

After making a name for itself as champion of delivery and innovation, Amazon will almost certainly bring huge technological change to Whole Foods, in possibly more ways than we expect.

On the clothing retail side of Amazon’s empire, a 3-D modelling system is being developed to help customers find clothes that fit them properly without trying them on and similar innovations could be coming to mix up the grocery experience.

Perhaps AI could help match ingredients with recipes or pick out new wines and cheeses to try. 3D-printers could make customer-designed cakes or chocolates. Augmented reality could highlight foods suitable for specific dietary requirements.

While all speculation at the moment, it wouldn’t be a stretch to expect drones to be dropping kale on your doorsteps in the not-too-distant future.

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