For $13.7 billion, let’s hope Jeff Bezos got some of Whole Foods’ infamously expensive asparagus water as part of Amazon’s acquisition of the grocer. While this deal might guarantee Bezos’ lifetime exclusive access to hot bar macaroni, what does it mean for the retail industry at large?
- “What we’re seeing today is the evolution of retail. This is a shot across the bow.” – Robert Hetu, Gartner.
Amazon has long been glorified as the disrupter that has flipped retail on its head and accelerated the trend of increased consumer control. Amazon Prime members don’t even have to pause Netflix (or better yet, Prime Video) to shop for everything from AA batteries to Zyrtec. Even if Amazon helps drive down Whole Foods’ prices, retailers shouldn’t think that this move requires a price drop, even for those in the grocery industry. What retailers—in grocery and beyond—should be thinking about in response to this deal is how to eliminate inefficiencies to bring better products to market faster.
To compete with Amazon, retailers need to rethink the retail backend. The process can become faster and more creative by bringing in designers, developers, suppliers and more to collaborate throughout the entire development process, rather than completing one task in a silo and passing the project off to the next in line. By involving all of these parties in the up-front creation process, retailers can avoid last-minute hassles that wouldn’t have surfaced until too late. This brings products to market faster and helps executives make more informed decisions with the confidence that they have all the critical information available.
If Amazon has taught us anything over the past decade, it’s that shoppers love speed and the ability to sift through options digitally. Consumers can pull up the Amazon app on their phone and shop for hundreds of different brands of socks, which they can procure from thousands of different sellers. Retailers should be able to shop like their customers do, through a more visual streamlined digital experience. Using virtual showrooms lets sourcers engage more suppliers and see more, eliminating weeks of labor-intensive comparisons. Using digital channels to shop like consumers saves retailers from timewasters like overseas trips and helps them prioritize what matters most: creativity and differentiation.
- “This is an earthquake rattling through the grocery sector as well as the retail world.” – Mark Hamrick, Bankrate.com
Should retailers be nervous, or is this merely a wake-up call that will bring more retailers into the 21st century? While many are still using outdated processes and spreadsheets to bring products to the customer, the tools exist to help retailers stay competitive, even with giants like Amazon looming.
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