Whole Foods Market, Inc. which is headquartered in Austin, Texas, is an American foods supermarket chain it was founded by John Mackey who currently serves as the CEO of Whole Foods. To sum up their mission and vision statement, Whole foods as a company strives to help out in promoting positive health and well-being of people, this includes team-members, customers and the whole planet in general. Some of their core values include: Selling the highest quality natural and organic products available
Satisfying, delighting and nourishing our customers
Supporting Team Member happiness and excellence
Creating wealth through profits and growth
Serving and supporting our local and global communities
Whole foods market is known for being a supermarket chain that strictly prides itself in being the largest natural and organic foods supermarket chain. In addition to that Whole Foods is regarded as America’s first national certified organic grocer. Whole Foods Market now owns and operates 335 retail stores, of which 322 stores are located in the US and the District of Columbia, seven in Canada, and six in the UK. (Our Values and Mission, 2014). Whole Foods competitive advantage is its broad product offerings; it offers broad selection of perishable foods which is designed to appeal to both natural foods and gourmet shoppers. In addition to that the company prides itself in offering a wide variety range of products that include a range of produce, seafood, grocery, meat and poultry, bakery, prepared foods and catering, specialty (beer, wine and cheese), coffee and tea, nutritional supplements, vitamins, body care, educational products such as books, floral items, pet products and household products.
Whole Foods ability to be able to offer these range of products at all its locations has enabled the company to continue to stay competitive and maintain a significant advantage over its competitors. In addition to Whole Foods Markets ability to continue to stay forerunner in the natural and organic grocer business, the company has also made remarkable contributions to its employees and the community. In 2009 the company received the Natural Products Association’s ‘2009 Socially Responsible Retailer Award’, after which in 2010 Fortune magazine ranked Whole Foods Market at number 18 on its list of the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For.’
During the same period, the company was recognized on the Ethisphere Institute’s 2010 ‘World’s Most Ethical Companies’ list. The International Association of Culinary Professionals named the company as ‘Culinary Youth Advocate of the Year’ for its effort to help improve school lunches for children nationwide with its ‘School Lunch Revolution’ campaign. The contributions discussed above has enabled the company to maintain a positive image in the community and more importantly among its own employees, I believe that these various contributions has enabled Whole Foods to remain a forerunner among its competitors. (Whole Foods, n.d).
Brand Recognition: This company is well known in the United States, As a result of which, anytime a whole-foods plans on opening up at a particular location, they will almost immediately start to develop a customer base. Unique Category: While organic food is creating quite a buzz worldwide, it still is fairly a new entrant in the produce world; and whole foods continues to be one of the only store that sells all organic products under one roof.
Lacks Global Integration: Whole-foods does well in the US, however, even though it has managed to open up a few stores in UK and Canada, it is still not as well-known elsewhere around the world. Organic Food : Even though organic food is beginning to gain popularity, I find that this is still a weakness for wholefoods, they only sell organic food items at their store, and not to mention organic food is usually more expensive than regular food we would get at the grocery store.
International Market: Whole Foods is only in 2 other countries, UK and Canada. They always have the option of looking into some of the world’s faster growing markets or even the fact that they could look into expanding throughout UK and Canada. IT Influence: Competitors of Whole Foods and even some other grocery have been striving for various ways to enrich the customer experience at their stores, one such way, is the introduction of “self-checkouts”, which enables the customer to spend less time waiting in line for a cashier. This is an area, where whole foods could look to capture the opportunity and excel in.
Competitors: The list of competitors for Whole Foods keeps on increasing, most grocery stores are starting to introduce a section of organic/healthy foods section at their store, as a result of which this could begin to influence Whole Foods customer base. Gas Prices: When gas prices rise, the cost of shipping food rises, and when the cost of shipping the food rises, so does Whole Foods’s operating costs. (Whole Foods, 2014).
Implementation of IT into the Whole Foods Business
As discussed above with the SWOT Analysis of the company, Whole Foods certainly is a very financially sound and a major player in the organic food industry, however, it is important for Whole Foods, to continue striving upon increasing/ bettering the customer experience at all of its stores. Whole Foods, has a strong customer base, however, we need to make sure that they continue to retain the customers and take measures to grow its customer’s base. There are at least a couple IT implementations that could be integrated with our current business model, to increase Whole Food’s Customer Experience. Rewards Program: Most of Whole Foods customers currently have some type of rewards program for its customer. Consequently, if Whole Foods were to introduce this Whole Foods customers will be able to earn points that can be redeemed for discounts and store experiences, such as cooking classes, tickets to locally held Organic Trade Shows etc. (Turner, 2014).
Self- Checkout Counters: Most grocery/retailers have started to have self- checkout registers, this would decrease customer wait time, and thereby, enhance the customer experience at the store. Furthermore, other advantages of self-checkout include, it takes up less space, it is estimated that up to six self-checkout kiosks, can take up to the same amount of space a single traditional checkout with a cashier would take. (BusinessBee, n.d.) IT’s assistance would be needed to implement the rewards program, we would first need to create a way that customers could access the Whole Foods Rewards Card using a mobile/tablet app, a physical card ( with barcode) and on the website. Customers could earn points/ coupons, for every dollar spent at Whole Foods, you would earn 1 “Organic Point”, after you have accumulated a certain number of “Organic Points”, it could be redeemed for various different things at the store, some of which include, tickets to Whole Foods Quarterly Organic Trade Shows, Cooking classes, Discounts/coupons at the store etc.
Whole Foods as a company continues to excel, although we need to ensure that we as a company are staying ahead of our times and continuing to keep our focus on enriching our customer’s experience when they visit their local Whole Food’s store.
BusinessBee-The Pros and Cons of Using Self-Checkouts (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014. Company Info. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/company-info Our Values and Mission. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers/our -values-and-mission Turner, N. (2014, September 15). Whole Foods to Test Rewards Program as Competition Grows. Retrieved September 20, 2014. Whole Foods Market: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. (n.d.). Retrieved September 20, 2014.