On the first Wednesday of every other month, I have a column called Wednesdays at Whole Foods. It showcases the most interesting news, products, store events, and happenings at the company.
As the competition heats up in the organic retailing world, Whole Foods Market has announced some very compelling initiatives that will surely enhance the customer experience.
– Home Delivery Whole Foods Market recently agreed to a partnership with Instacart, which will enable shoppers to have products delivered to them in as little as one hour. Additionally, customers will soon also have the option to place orders via Instacart and pick up their order at a local participating Whole Foods Market store.
Instacart delivers from Whole Foods Market in all of the 15 cities it currently serves: Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Boulder, Colorado, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, San Francisco, San Jose, California, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In the coming months, Instacart and Whole Foods Market expect to expand the in-store pick-up option to all of the cities Instacart serves.
All Instacart customers receive free delivery on their first order. Thereafter, the cost is just $3.99 for two-hour delivery or $5.99 for one-hour delivery. Customers can also purchase a $99 annual Instacart Express membership and receive free delivery on any order over $35.
My Take: Awesome. We are now living in a “I want it now” world and to have groceries delivered in under an hour is just phenomenal. Plus, the excellent user-interface with favorites, recipe ingredients, and lists all make online grocery shopping so easy.
– Apple Pay Whole Foods Market is now one of the first merchants to integrate with Apple Pay, a new category of service that will transform mobile payments with an easy, secure and private way to make purchases from your iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and Apple Watch.
Apple Pay will be rolled out nationwide this fall to all stores in the U.S.
My Take: Love it. Currently, I use a mobile app to pay for my purchases at local vendors here in NYC, and I can tell you that it is incredibly convenient and an absolute pleasure to use.
There is no swiping my credit card, no having to sign my name, and no paper receipts.
– Loyalty Program The company has announced that it will be rolling out a loyalty program in late 2015 called Whole Foods Market Rewards.
It is currently testing it out in Princeton, NJ, with an additional test expected to take place in the Philadelphia area later this year. Shoppers will have the ability to use either a loyalty card or an app downloaded from Apple.
Interestingly, this loyalty program won’t strictly be about collecting points to save on purchases. The points could also be used for things like cooking classes or other experiential activities.
My Take: Can’t happen soon enough. This may prove to be the most important program that the company has ever launched and will be a monster success.
ON THE SHELVES
The following are products that are exclusive to Whole Foods Market and cannot be found elsewhere.
Suja will be rolling out four special drinks for the fall and holiday seasons:
Call Me Pumpkin (a pumpkin drink in a bottle), Wassail to You (the ultimate apple cider), Under the Mistletoe (a peppermint and chocolate smoothie) and ‘Tis the Nog (egg nog without the egg).
For every bottle purchased of Call Me Pumpkin and Wassail to You, both of which were launched nationwide yesterday, Suja will donate 20-25¢ to The Hunger Project, a non-profit that develops bottom-up strategies to end hunger.
For every bottle purchased of Under The Mistletoe and ‘Tis The Nog, both of which will launch nationwide on November 1st, Suja will donate 20-25¢ to Trees For Troops, an organization that provides free, farm-grown Christmas Trees to US Armed Forces members and their families.
Daniel Boulud, arguably the world’s greatest chef, continues to expand his culinary empire and has launched a signature line of small-batch, smoked salmon only available at the New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey stores.
The salmon comes in three flavors – Highland with ground cardamom and whisky; Riviera with fennel, basil, pink peppercorn and the anise liqueur Ricard; and Baja with cilantro with tequila.
It is USDA certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified, and will be available in white cheddar, Wisconsin cheddar, and classic milk cheddar.
Grass-fed is a huge trend right now and combined unit sales of grass-fed eggs, milk, yogurt and butter at Whole Foods Market are up 70% since last year.
In an effort to create awareness around the mission of the Seed Savers Exchange, a non-profit dedicated to the preservation and distribution of heirloom seeds, and the need for crop diversity, Terra Chips has launched a brand new product – Terra Seed Saver Chips.
These chips are both Non-GMO Project verified and gluten-free, and they are available in two flavors – Heritage Blend and Beauregard Sweets.
The new store in Augusta, Georgia, home of the famed Augusta National Golf Club, has a nine-hole putting green where shoppers can buy groceries and then hit the links. How cool is that!
On November 6th, a new store in Houston opens its doors and this location will have the company’s first-ever in-store brewery, aptly named Whole Foods Market Brewery Co.
But get this: There will be an employee riding a tricycle around the store taking orders and delivering beer to customers as they shop.
A brand of camel’s milk is now sold in 50 of Whole Foods Market’s stores in California. Yes, camel’s milk.
But who knew that camel’s milk is even produced in the U.S? Fascinating.
MORE COOL STUFF
– The widely anticipated, first-ever national TV ad campaign from Whole Foods Markets starts this month.
Here’s one person hoping that we see and hear a lot of the word “organic” in this campaign.
– Hand curated by Master Sommelier Devon Broglie and Global Beverage Buyer Doug Bell, Whole Foods Market is starting a Wine Club. You’ll get four shipments per year of six wines, and you can cancel anytime.
– Speaking of wine, Whole Foods Market shoppers purchasing select bottles of Trinity Oaks wines have already supported the planting of 140,000 trees through the One Bottle One Tree program, and the company hopes to support the planting of 110,000 more trees by this Halloween.
– Did you know that Whole Foods Market sells 22,000 bunches of kale every single day?