Thursday, July 6, 2017

Impulse Blog

"Grocery shopping, the Amazon way" by Janelle Nanos Globe Staff  July 05, 2017

It’s tempting to imagine the merger of Amazon and Whole Foods as fodder for a technological experiment: What if you could simply ask Alexa for organic kale and have it delivered by drone in minutes?

But in the days since the tech giant announced it was buying the grocery store chain, experts in the food industry have begun to speculate about the cultural implications of the sale, and what a merger of Amazon’s customer-centric ethos with Whole Foods’ high-minded approach to food might look like.

Grocery stores have generally lagged behind other retailers when it comes to innovation, said David VanAmburg, managing director for the American Customer Satisfaction Index. “But if the Whole Foods side of our shopping and consumer experience can be made as timely and as efficient and satisfying as what the Internet has done for the rest of our retail shopping experience,” he said, “culturally it could be huge.”

Long before we see drones taking off from Whole Foods’ rooftops, however, we’re likely to see the expansion of Amazon’s Prime memberships, VanAmburg said, enabling people who pay the $99 annual fee to get access to in-store coupons, deals, and better prices at Whole Foods than nonmembers.

And while that might not seem much different from a traditional supermarket loyalty program, the distinction comes from Amazon’s deep understanding of shoppers’ habits. After all, this is the company that just incorporated its Alexa artificial intelligence technology into its fridge-friendly Dash Wand device, allowing you to both speak and scan barcodes to update your grocery list.

Yeah, that way the CIA can know what you are eating and the WaPo can write about it.

Amazon dominates the Web in online sales, but getting information about our in-store purchases has always been beyond its reach. Now, if Amazon knows that you bought eggs and peanut butter from the physical store, it could ping you when it suspects you’re about to run out. And if you’re too busy to get to the store? It will happily replenish your pantry with a delivery from Amazon Fresh, the company’s existing grocery delivery and pickup service.

“It has that sort of cool and creepiness factor,” VanAmburg said, and it forces us to wonder: “How much do we want to let [Amazon] know about us for the sake of convenience?”

You wonder how human beings have managed to survive for so long, don't you?

Doug Rauch believes we’re willing to let companies know quite a bit. With personalized digital insights, Rauch said, the “treasure hunt” aspect of grocery store shopping, or the ability to lure customers into making impulse purchases, can begin much earlier, with e-mails about new products available in-store or online. “There might be a whole new relationship created with the customer and their food that may not have been crafted so easily or quickly,” he said. 

If that is the case, it's time to end it.

One possibility? A hybrid Whole Foods/Amazon store model might make picking out sundries far less cumbersome (particularly if you dread weaving a cart up and down the aisles). Shoppers have been hesitant to buy perishable items online, but Rauch envisions a system in which they pick out dry goods in advance — think boxes of Hamburger Helper or tuna fish cans — and then show up at the store to select meats, dairy items, fruit, and vegetables. At the check-out, the tuna and other such items are prepackaged and waiting.

The question that has been asked widely among industry insiders is whether Amazon’s approach to pricing will bring down Whole Food’s sky-high receipts. After all, Whole Foods is the store that the public loves to shop at but hates to pay for. So can Amazon democratize the Whole Foods experience without sacrificing their standards?

They are doing the exact opposite with everything!

In short, can Amazon help us to hate ourselves a bit less when we fill up our reusable bags at the checkout?

Early signs say yes. And no.....

Speak for yourself! 

I don't hate myself, nor am I in love myself. I consider that healthy.



Malls pour money into upgrades to stay relevant in Amazon era

What is going to happen is commercial real estate rents will collapse, meaning Amazon can buy up all the spaces on the cheap and then integrate their digital and brick-and-mortar locations into a monopoly.

Also see:

"US stock indexes were mixed Wednesday. Energy companies skidded along with oil prices, but technology stocks rose and reversed a portion of their recent losses. The three biggest losers on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index were all auto parts companies. Car makers slumped, too. An eight-day rally in US crude oil prices ended with a thud, and energy companies took sharp losses. Retailers and small, domestically focused companies also struggled. Technology companies bucked the trend and finished higher. Those companies have hit a wall in the last month. Banks and industrial and health care companies also rose on another quiet day of trading after the Independence Day holiday. The Federal Reserve is trying to decide when it will start letting its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio shrink. Some Fed officials want to announce the start of that process within a few months, according to minutes from the central bank’s June meeting, while others want to wait longer. Tesla took its biggest loss in a year after as investors were disappointed with the company’s second-quarter production and delivery totals. The electric car maker’s stock dropped 7.2 percent. Ford declined 2.2 percent, while General Motors sagged 1.6 percent. Chinese e-commerce company Baidu rose 2.1 percent, and chip maker Nvidia gained 2.7 percent. The companies said they will work together on projects to bring artificial intelligence technology to cloud competing, autonomous cars, and home assistants....."

Tesla $talled?


Fed officials split over timing on reducing debt holdings

Volvo, betting on electric, moves to phase out conventional engines

Maybe you should take a plane.

"Orders to US factories fell for the second straight month in May, a potentially worrisome sign for American industry. Economists had expected factory orders to drop, but the fall was twice what they had forecast.....

A least the labor market is healthy.

True Religion Brand Jeans filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday, the latest retailer upended as Americans ramp up spending, but largely in places other than clothing stores....."

Got the pants beat off 'em.