Speculation on Whole Foods Inventory Automation
Last I heard, the deal wasn’t sealed, but that doesn’t stop lots of interesting speculation on how an Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods might affect the future of retail.
This piece looks at some of the potential impact on Whole Foods inventory management.
The other day, I had this related, little vision of what the future of Whole Foods shopping might look like:
You leave your home with your meals for the week already planned in your favorite recipe app(s). You walk into the store and your phone buzzes, asking for confirmation that you want to fulfill your meal plan shopping. It also asks you to confirm that you want to top off your pantry’s supplies of any snacks and other stuff that Amazon’s smart algorithms calculate are nearly empty at home. Then, as you spend some time doing the more interesting aspects of shopping, like picking your fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, bakery items and prepared foods, robots whir away in the back room, pulling together a smart cart that will meet you at check out. In it will be all of the stuff your recipe ingredients require and the products of other, more commodity-like topping-off aspects of shopping. You’ll bring your much smaller hand basket of fruit, veggies, meats and other hand-picked stuff up with you, and you will just walk out the door, with everything paid for automatically.
The focus of your interactions with Whole Foods employees through all of this will be more along the lines of helping you pick the freshest, best-tasting and healthiest produce. They may even begin helping you to think about your diet and various healthier alternatives to the selections already in your cart and on your list. Whole Foods will have removed the drudgerous aspects of the work and focused its employees on more interesting, intelligent and social aspects of its mission.
That’s one way it could play out at least. 🙂