Friday, May 27, 2016

"365 by Whole Foods" Market Boasts Lower Prices and Higher Efficiency

This week, Whole Foods opened their "365 by Whole Foods Market" in Silver Lake, the first of a set of 13 such stores to be built around the country this year. The supermarket chain's new style of smaller store has already interested many customers in its first couple of days, and the company expects the fad to grow rapidly. In her L.A. Times article, Samantha Masunaga describes the new type of store and some of the ways it differs from the classical Whole Foods supermarket.

365 is Whole Foods' first smaller format store. However, it features many high-tech options and better deals than their regular stores, making it a highly sought-after alternative. People, especially Millennials, go to Whole Foods because they are looking for healthier, organic food options. However, eating healthier is often costly, and most people have pretty inflexible budgets when it comes to groceries. Therefore, when shoppers found out that 365's products were the same, but at a cheaper price, they flocked to the new store.

On Wednesday morning, when the store opened its doors for the first time, the parking lot was full and then some.  Interested shoppers circled the lot, having trouble finding a spot to park their cars, but when they finally got into the store, they were amazed by what they found. While the 365 has a smaller selection than a normal Whole Foods, its prices are significantly cheaper, which, too many Millennials with little disposable income, is a worthwhile trade-off. Additionally, the displays of produce feature electronic readers that measure the weight of fruits or vegetables and print stickers based on the measurement. In that way, the check-out process is quick and easy, saving time for both customers and employees.

Besides the reduced variety, the new 365 will also be missing Whole Foods' signature deli counter. However, it still has a large salad bar and a variety of pre-cooked hot food items. Analysts believe that 365 is likely Whole Foods' response to losing their share on the health food market. Other stores like Ralphs and Target have begun to provide organic options for their customers, which means Whole Foods is facing much greater competition in a once-blue ocean. Over the past three quarters, Whole Foods has shown declining sales, but the management hopes that the smaller, less cost-intensive 365 stores will help to turn that around over the coming year.

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