The retail giant is inching toward national two-hour grocery delivery already.

By Mike Pomranz
January 02, 2019

No one really expected for Whole Foods to be left unaltered after the brand was bought out by Amazon in 2017. Clearly, Amazon had more in mind than simply boosting its sales of kombucha. But despite significant changes like in-store Prime deals and a massive expansion of two-hour delivery, a recent Wall Street Journal report suggests that even bigger plans may be on the horizon.

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Once known for its proximity to America’s hippest and most affluent neighborhoods, Whole Foods will reportedly be heading in a somewhat opposite direction under Amazon’s latest playbook: The WSJ states that Amazon is looking to open new Whole Foods stores in more far-flung locations with the goal of getting as many shoppers as possible within the range of its much-ballyhooed Prime Now two-hour delivery service. Specifically, though Amazon and Whole Foods declined to comment, one source told the WSJ that Amazon was eyeing possible new locations in places like Wyoming, Idaho, and southern Utah.

Another source implied that this growth is all part of Amazon’s plan to continue to bring two-hour delivery to as much of the United States as possible. Currently, available in more than 60 cities, the source told the WSJ that Prime Now delivery and online grocery pickup is slated to eventually land at almost all of Whole Foods’ approximately 475 locations.

However, the question remains: Is Amazon’s Whole Foods strategy actually paying off for the online retail giant? Reportedly, Whole Foods sales are up, but profitability is down. Still, Amazon itself apparently pointed to Thanksgiving as a good sign – setting records in Prime Now turkey deliveries and Whole Foods turkey sales.

And yet, if we’re going to talk turkey more figuratively, it’s almost certainly too early to say whether Amazon’s Whole Foods gambit is poised to be a success. The WSJ also points out that, combined, Amazon and Whole Foods accounted for just 3.2 percent of the grocery market in 2017. Though it’s estimated that this number is set to grow significantly over the next five years, only so many people live in Wyoming. It’s probably safe to assume we’ll hear about even more changes to Whole Foods identity before 2019 is through.

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