I'm not sure that in the past year or, honestly, in the past decade or two, there has been a single deal that will be regarded as a more impactful transaction across multiple industries and the entire omni-channel economy than Amazon's recently announced acquisition of Whole Foods.
Apart from one of the Detroit Three auto guys or Daimler buying Tesla, it's unlikely that there will be another deal of this game-changing magnitude. So many of the other deals being discussed are «so what» stories at best and, as I always say, two warm cups of coffee do not make a hot drink. So I would not waste a lot of time or breath on what's next. The question today for grocery chains and independent markets across the country and, frankly, all retailers is, what do we do now?
Believe me when I tell you that this is not just a concern for the guys who sell cantaloupes and kumquats. In case it has escaped anyone's attention, Amazon is well on its way to becoming the nation's largest apparel merchant; and that's even before the rollout of its just-announced Prime Wardrobe business, which provides an at-home, try-it-before-you-buy-it clothing service. And because it's Amazon, the new offering comes with a special and very appealing little twist: The more of the ordered and inspected items you decide to actually buy, the cheaper the whole order will be for you. I like how this «bundle before you buy» incentive approach has you mentally accumulating and acquiring more and more things in your head before they even arrive on your doorstep.
I do not have any special sauce or secret solutions for the nation's merchants, but, if I were going to start trying to plan my increasingly bleak future, I'd want to be sure that I at least understood all of the dimensions of the deal and all of the different levers this acquisition affords Amazon. My sense of the general media coverage has been that it's a little long on hype and hysteria and fairly light on helpful information and analysis.
So, I thought it would be useful to try to briefly outline the three very distinct legs of the strategic stool and how each element enhances and extends Amazon's position in the marketplace.
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