Whole Foods cooking up cloud-based retail management system

Dive Brief:

  • Whole Foods Market and business enterprise software company Infor announced a partnership to co-create a cloud-based retail management system designed to streamline its supply chain and reduce costs, while enhancing merchandising functions and ultimately, the shopper experience.
  • The retailer expects the platform’s advanced data analytics technology to provide in-depth insights on product attributes, for example, that will better inform inventory management and marketing decisions and drive performance gains in-store and online.
  • Whole Foods will become a working lab for Infor development engineers and designers as the companies co-develop what they call the next generation, end-to-end retail software suite.

Dive Insight:

With this partnership, Whole Foods is betting on insights gleaned from advanced data analytics to counter encroachment by mainstream retailers on its organic-products niche.

The move comes as “natural” and “green” products — from organic apples and quinoa to sustainable baby wipes — have gained mainstream appeal amid the nation’s ever burgeoning health and wellness movement. U.S. consumer sales of organic products exceed $39 billion today, according to the Organic Trade Association, as 51% of families purchased more organic products than they did a year ago. Whole Foods is aiming to highlight its distinction from lower-priced rivals like Walmart and Target that have rolled out major organic merchandise programs in the past few years to capitalize on this trend. 

The retailer hopes the technology collaboration will help debunk perceptions that rivals’ products are no different from its own, Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb told Fortune.

“This is the ultimate endgame of matching up this platform with our product attributes [and] our product quality,” he told Fox Business.

The idea is to tell shoppers stories in new ways and create “richer buying experiences,” Robb said. “Imagine if you are picking up a head of cauliflower — and this platform allows you to actually have a video from the supplier saying ‘here this is how this cauliflower was grown.’”

The Infor partnership marks Whole Foods’ second defensive move this year against cheaper rivals.

Nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” for its high prices, the retailer announced plans this spring to court bargain-seeking shoppers with a 365 By Whole Foods Market spin-off concept. The lower-priced small-format store, which targets the coveted Millennial generation, will debut next year.

Filed Under: Technology Marketing
Top image credit: Flickr user ilovemypit