Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Atlantic -- Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods

Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is being described as the deal of the century.

 “ ‘This is an earthquake rattling through the grocery sector,’ said one expert of the Amazon-Whole Foods mega-deal. Experts expect Amazon will bring its low-price expertise and technology prowess to bear with Whole Foods, putting further downward pressure on prices in the already hyper-competitive, $611-billion U.S. grocery industry.

“The grocery business, notorious for its low-profit margins, is known in the logistics industry as the ‘last mile’ for e-commerce. Will the Amazon-Whole Foods deal change all that? Will Amazon change Whole Foods or will Whole Foods change Amazon?” asks LA Times reporters James F. Peltz and Makeda Easter 

Is Amazon on the verge of owning American retailing?

“The deal shakes up a U.S. grocery industry that has been struggling to keep up with growing competition, both in stores and online. Amazon, which for years has been testing new technology and innovations in quiet corners, would now have a network of physical locations to test and implement those ideas.” -- Washington Post

Which leads to the question: will robotics and automation displace workers in the retail grocery industry as it is continuing to do in the retail industry?

Yes, it will. There is no question about it.

Amazon Robotics describes its mission, and a business model it surely will adhere to: 

“Amazon Robotics, a wholly owned subsidiary of, empowers a smarter, faster, more consistent customer experience through automation. Amazon Robotics automates fulfillment center operations using various methods of robotic technology including autonomous mobile robots, sophisticated control software, language perception, power management, computer vision, depth sensing, machine learning, object recognition, and semantic understanding of commands.

“Amazon Robotics has a dedicated focus on research and development to continuously explore new opportunities to extend its product lines into new areas that will redefine what ‘Now’ means and allow Amazon to continue to offer customer experiences that will delight and amaze.

“Headquartered in the Boston area, Amazon Robotics is located in the epicenter of robotic innovation and has developed corporate and academic partnerships to support innovation throughout the robotics ecosystem, to bring cutting edge technology into the field faster.

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Why Amazon Bought Whole Foods
The retailer’s $14 billion bet isn’t just about the future of food. It’s about the future of commerce—especially for rich urban consumers.

By Derek Thompson