Once Amazon gets its hands on Whole Foods, expect the company’s engineers to be tasked with creating new ways to insert technology into the grocery business. Meanwhile, competitors like Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Costco will be trying to improve their digital efforts to keep customers satisfied. Angus Loten writes for The Wall Street Journal:
“Whole Foods will soon become Amazon’s experimental playground for developing more sophisticated big-data marketing strategies,” Stephen DiFranco, a former vice president at Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, who founded big-data strategy firm IoT Advisory Group, said in an email.
The move is already putting pressure on grocery store competitors, such as Kroger Co., Target Corp., Supervalu Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which all saw declines in share prices after the deal was announced Friday.
Each of these companies has made significant investments in digital technology in recent years, together transforming the grocery store market.
Take Kroger. which currently uses cameras and infrared sensors to track foot traffic in its stores, using data algorithms to schedule cashiers in real time. Its mobile app analyzes shopping habits to offer ‘smart’ digital coupons, and the company is testing sensor-laden interactive shelves that can detect shoppers in the aisles via their smartphones and provide personalized pricing and product suggestions as they shop.
“You’ve told me what you like and what you want. I know what’s in the aisle, and I can fuse all that data,” Kroger CIO Chris Hjelm told CIO Journal earlier this year.
Supervalu this week said it plans to replace legacy mainframe technology infrastructure and shift more workloads to the cloud.
The move is part of a broader competitive strategy geared towards an increasingly technology-driven market by leverage digital tools, the company said.
Whole Foods itself three years ago became one of the first participants in Apple Inc.’s Apple Pay program, while partnering with Instacart to test home delivery and pickup, among other initiatives.
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