More and more, businesses are looking for ways to blend brick-and-mortar stores with online services. The company that rules the online marketplace? Amazon. But Bezos is branching out.
Last week, the e-commerce giant made a bid to buy the healthy supermarket chain, Whole Foods, for $13.7 billion. This acquisition is Amazon’s biggest and boldest by far. Its second largest is popular e-commerce shoe retailer, Zappos, which was acquired for a mere $1.2 billion, by comparison.
Other companies—especially Walmart, Target, Kroger and Costco—aren’t taking this acquisition lightly. In fact, the common reaction appears to be panic as shares of the largest grocery competitors took a tumble. News outlets are naming it a “takeover”, and a “Supermarket War”, claiming that Amazon will now decimate the grocery store, like they did the shopping mall. And they’re probably not wrong.
This isn’t necessarily negative. Amazon will continue to do what it does best: data. It will likely leverage it’s data-bilities on a new industry:
Armed with giant warehouses, shopper data, the latest technology and nearly endless funds — and now with Whole Foods’ hundreds of physical stores — Amazon is poised to reshape an $800 billion grocery market that is already undergoing many changes. (New York Times)
While it doesn’t necessarily bode well for competitors, imagine the convenience of Amazon fulfillment, integrated with the supermarket shopping experience. This is another area in which Amazon has effectively inserted its business into everyday life.
This isn’t Amazon’s first foray into food. Amazon has two other grocery brainchildren: Amazon Fresh and more recently, Amazon Go.
Launched—though somewhat unsuccessfully—in 2007, Amazon Fresh is an online grocery delivery service. These services are the pinnacle of consumer convenience; shoppers go online, fill virtual carts with their preferred grocery items (included favorite supermarket brands), and have these goods delivered straight to their doors. Others competing in the same ring are Instacart, Shipt, Peadpod, and FreshDirect.
Though still unavailable in most countries, AmazonFresh is remarkable in that it’s entering into and promising to revolutionize yet another industry.
Amazon had always sworn it would stay away from the brick-and-mortar store. As it turns out, it’s still all about location, location, location. In December, Amazon announced their plans to revolutionize the grocery shopping experience by building a physical store.
Think of all the ways in which grocery stores can be inconvenient: checkout lines, price variation among stores, and merchandise offerings. Amazon Go, their grocery store prototype, is an integrated technology shopping experience. It works like such:
Shoppers use an app to add the products they plan to buy to a digital shopping cart. They can then walk out of the building without waiting in a checkout line. Amazon’s machine-learning technology automatically identifies when a product is added to your cart, so you don’t have to do it yourself. When you leave the store, Amazon automatically charges your account. (Business Insider)
Amazon is incorporating tons of innovative technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine-learning, and elements from self-driving cars. As most Amazon and Prime consumers will testify, their shopping experiences are quick and convenient. Still to be determined: can consumers have the best of both worlds, or will convenience come at a price?