Last week, Amazon broke the internet by announcing its plans to buy Whole Foods for a casual $13.7 billion. (Raise an organic avocado if you spent your evening run speculating with your workout buddies about what this deal means for consumers, and whether Amazon Prime deals will extend to the beloved bulk bins!)
So what does the future of the healthy food chain look like now that it’s just a division of the online mega-marketplace? At an employee town hall last week, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, and other execs talked to Whole Foods workers about the deal they called a “dream come true.” (According to Mackey, the idea actually came to him while he was sleeping, The Washington Post reports. “I woke up, and I told my wife about it,” Mackey said. “And she said, ‘That’s crazy.’ And I said, ‘I know. That’s really weird, isn’t it?'”)
Here’s what Mackey says is in store for Whole Foods, its customers, and its employees.
The focus is going to shift from employee to consumer
Working for Whole Foods has always come with perks (think a 20 percent discount and low-cost healthcare), and the company is known for treating its staff well. But now, Mackey says the brand will shift the focus to shoppers: “By God, we’re gonna become as customer-centric as Amazon.”
Expect a more high-tech store experience
Does this mean robot-like checkouts in place of IRL cashiers and drones delivering asparagus to our doorsteps? TBD. Mackey referred to Whole Foods as the “class dunce” when it comes to technology today, but with valedictorian-like potential. “So I think that we can expect that we’ll go to the front of the class, eventually, in the grocery business,” he told employees. (According to The Post, spokespeople for both Whole Foods and Amazon said no layoffs would come as a result of the merger, and that no job automation is planned at this time.)
There will be changes—and you’ll notice them
While Mackey didn’t cite specific ways the shopping experience will be altered in the coming months, he stressed that “things are gonna change. There’s just no question about that…When this deal closes, we’re all Amazon people.” Will that mean Amazon-style prices? Or Transparent playing on a loop while you wait to check out? It remains to be seen—but I’ll hold out hope for “Prime” access at the bulk bin.
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