EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 2994 - February 05, 2013     5 of 5

Whole Foods May Follow Amazon into Grocery Ecommerce

By David A. Utter

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The world of grocery ecommerce is at a point where it tends to exist in large, urban markets. It's a sensible approach: go where the customer demographic lends itself to supporting the cost for convenience. has tried reaching for this market in its backyard, via the Amazon Fresh program in Seattle. Walmart started testing the grocery delivery concept in Northern California a couple of years ago.

But a Wells Fargo report cited in Supermarket News suggest Whole Foods may be the one to make the next significant move into ecommerce. The chain would start with non-food items before moving on to grocery delivery, which is more time-sensitive due to perishable items.

Wells Fargo's Kate Wendt found evidence of trademark filings by Whole Foods in January suggesting this potential course of action. The filings hint at essentials like mobile, ecommerce and store pickup and delivery. The analyst pointed to strengths like the brand's website traffic and unique product offerings in its favor.

One compelling strength noted by Wendt is the infrastructure built by CEO John Mackey and company. As Whole Foods has expanded to over 340 stores in the U.S. as well as the U.K., they have built a distribution network to support their growth. Followers of retail giant Walmart understand the value of such networking.

Once the ecommerce side is in place, the Whole Foods challenge will be the "last mile" in distributing orders to local consumers, and its model is likely to follow what Amazon and Walmart have done in their test markets to date. For a closer look at Amazon Fresh and the likelihood of it rolling out nationally any time soon, take a look at this recent Seattle Times article.

About the author:

David A. Utter is a freelance writer based in Lexington, KY. He has covered technology topics from search to security to online business and has been quoted in places like ZDNet and BusinessWeek. He considers his appearance on NPR's "All Things Considered" with long-time host Robert Siegel a delightful highlight. Send your tips to and find him on Twitter @davidautter and on LinkedIn.

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