Can Amazon persuade enough people to buy fresh food online?


Amazon is experimenting with a store in its Seattle hometown where customers will buy groceries without even having to go through a checkout line, using an app and computer vision.

Bezos' tweet was sent less than 24 hours before Amazon announced Friday morning that it was buying Whole Foods in a deal valued around $13.7 billion.

Australian retail billionaire Gerry Harvey says the Australian retail sector shouldn't worry about Amazon just yet because it will take much longer to establish itself locally than what some believe.

Some industry observers say Amazon will find it hard to use Whole Foods to pull away Wal-Mart shoppers because the two stores appeal to different customers.But Michelle Grant, head of retailing at market research firm Euromonitor, said Amazon could use an obscure part of the Whole Foods portfolio - Whole Foods 365 - to lure Wal-Mart shoppers.Whole Foods 365 offers private-label goods and lower prices than typical Whole Foods stores, and is targeted at younger, value-conscious shoppers. "We're playing offense", he said.Wal-Mart is offering curbside pickup of online grocery purchases at 700 locations, with 300 more planned by year end. That's because they're probably a member of Amazon Prime, which includes unlimited two-day shipping on over 50 million items.

Following the latest acquisition by Bezos' company, the Whole Foods, Levinsohn said, "I wouldn't be surprised if we see big acquisitions in media from [Amazon]".

"The conventional grocery store should feel threatened and incapable of responding", Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

But through its new acquisition, Amazon is signaling that its found the way to getting you that bunch of bananas quicker and more effectively: by taking over your local brick-and-mortar store.

It values Whole Foods at an 18% premium to its closing share price on Thursday. "I think this is the first of many". However, "if they truly keep Whole Foods Market as a separate division and Mackey in place as they say they will, they'd presumably maintain whatever [environmental] stances they already had", said Jon Springer, retail editor for Supermarket News.

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Though large, e-commerce still only represents a small fraction of overall grocery shopping around the world.

The merger appears to let Whole Foods continue its current operations and programs.

That was feeling of Taylor Malooly, 19, a University of Texas student at Whole Foods in Austin, who said a Whole Foods delivery service would have to be fast if he were to try it.

How quickly items get delivered "is going to have to be improved considerably" for customers to order something online instead of going to the prepared-foods counter at the supermarket, she said.

The Whole Foods deal could also get more people to try grocery delivery, something many shoppers have been hesitant about because of concerns about meat and produce quality.

"It would absolutely have to come down until it's included in a Prime membership", Anderson said. Amazon is a leader in the use of robots. The Whole Foods deal is an acknowledgment that it can't build its own physical footprint quickly enough alone.

There's also the "grocerant" trend - a blending of grocery stores and restaurants. I'm still trying to figure out if I like that or not....