November 12, 2013
Expect more multichannel interaction but not multimodal delivery from Whole Foods Market and other large natural retail leaders.
“Our vision is core, what we are calling, extended experience,” Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb said during a recent earnings call. “It’s the idea that ultimately a retailer integrates the digital world, the physical world and the space between. Our first priority is not the last-mile delivery.”
He wasn’t the only natural products CEO touting an omnichannel retail approach during recent quarterly reports. The topic garnered focus during the Vitamin Shoppe’s earnings call a few days earlier.
“Our omnichannel initiative is an important focus for the company, one which will enable us to further improve service to our customers,” CEO Anthony Truesdale told investors. “All this is designed so that customers can shop however, wherever and whenever they want, and this will set us further apart from pure play e-commerce companies.”
The first phase in Vitamin Shoppe’s approach includes in-store pickup of online purchases, what’s known in industry lingo as “click and collect,” scheduled for availability by the end of 2014.
Whole Foods Market has not committed but is testing a similar solution and other delivery plans. Trials include:
Working with a partner to fulfill delivery. (Instacart delivers orders via personal shoppers from Whole Foods and other conventional grocers in California’s Bay Area, where Google Shopping Express also offers same-day Whole Foods delivery.)
Testing click-and-collect service in two markets.
And others happening that “we are unfortunately not in a position to talk about right now.”
“I think it’s growing incrementally,” Robb said.
But home delivery is not a future he predicts dominating grocery retail even 10 years from now as he sees physical stores or the integrated “click-and-collect sort of model” remaining natural consumers' top shopping means.
“In terms of us actually being the deliverers, I’m not sure I see that as something that we need to do right now,” he said. “We haven’t seen a business model that really works.”
Online supplement sales direction
The store-to-door discussion certainly takes a different tack for a supplement-focused company where e-commerce is well-established—and web-only competition abounds. Online sales are particularly important for Vitamin Shoppe, which experienced 18 percent year-over-year same-quarter online sales growth.
“Our e-commerce business continues to drive significant growth for us,” Truesdale said. “And looking ahead, we expect our e-commerce sales to continue to grow faster than our retail sales. We will continue to invest in this channel through growth in product categories, marketing spend, customer service enhancements and additional functionality to drive continued strong performance.”
About the Author(s)
You May Also Like