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Whole Foods 365 opens its first store in New York.

05
apr
2018
Bertrand Leseigneur
Retail Innovation Correspondent USA
3 minutes

Whole Foods 365

In February, Whole Foods opened its first Whole Foods 365 store in New York. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, this Whole Foods 365 is distinct in that its design is quite interesting and it has lower prices. After acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon had promised to lower in-store prices, and the opening of these Whole Foods 365 stores corresponds to this strategy.

Concept

Lost amidst the multitude of adverts surrounding Amazon’s strategy and its acquisitions, one piece of news has gone somewhat unnoticed: the development of Whole Foods 365 stores, the format of discount food stores. On 31 January, the first East Coast store opened in Brooklyn, just opposite the Barclays Center and the bustling subway station.

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LThe store covers an area of 2800 sq. m at the bottom of the Ashland Place skyscraper, next to the brand new Apple Store. The store has a food court located near the entrance including the first Next Level Burger restaurant to be found on the East Coast. Here you can also find America’s first 100% vegetable burger, a juice shop and Orwashers : a 100 year old New York bakery that will be selling a daily selection of pastries, breads and sandwiches. Finally, the second beer self-service bar in New York can be found in the food court.

And as always, there is a buffet area in the heart of the store.

In addition to discounted products and meat as well as seafood aisles, the store will offer buffets filled with food to take away or eat on site and “close to 30 artisanal cheeses”, one of which is exclusive to Whole Foods 365.  Of course Whole Foods still has beer: “Over 100 craft beers, both domestic and imported”, states the press release.

Industry analysts believe that Amazon could use the 365 store as a “tester” in its greater grocery market plan. The 365 brand has been around for two and a half years, but the Brooklyn store is only the seventh location (and the first to open on the East Coast), although the website mentions 16 other sites in eight states as «futurs magasins». So, it seems as though Amazon is taking the cheap Whole Foods project very seriously.

Why visit the store

Spend less than at a conventional Whole Foods store

Whole Foods 365 offers a more limited selection of in-store products (about 7,000 products compared to over 20,000 in the classic Whole Foods store) and a smaller selling area too (at times half the size of the regular store). Ultimately, because of their smaller size, the stores have fewer employees. These differences make it possible to lower the final cost of the products to the customer.

 

Treat yourself to half pint of beer

In the food court, located at the store entrance, customers can find the brand’s first “POURiT Authority“, a beer-by-the-glass sales area, where you can use a refillable card to buy beers from a dozen rotatable taps. It’s a simple principle. You add money to your RFID card available from the cashier, then use this card to activate the beer taps at your own convenience; a quarter glass, half a pint, it’s up to you! Once you are done, you return your RFID card and you only have to pay for the quantity of beer consumed, because the RFID card has remembered the exact amount purchased.

Place your order using the in-store pizza phone

One of the particularities of Whole Foods is its “buffet” area, where you can find different dishes to take away or eat in. As Whole Foods 365 has fewer employees, there are no stalls to buy your slice of pizza, sushi or anything else. Thankfully there is a telephone line to direct you to the kitchens. From the aisles, you can call the kitchen to place your take away pizza order.

How ingenious!

See the store’s fantastic design

Traditional Whole Foods stores are custom-designed to suit the location, adding a few decorations to make the whole thing blend into the local scenery. Whole Foods 365 is different, the design is very clean but functional, the aisles are wide and the signs are very visible. We don’t try to keep the customer in store by getting them to lose themselves in a maze of aisles… Customers are in a hurry! So, we make sure to indicate clearly which way they should go.

Get hands on with all the store’s technology

The store only uses digital barcodes to display prices, which allows price changes to be carried out instantaneously. There are fast checkout areas in this store that only accept payment by Apple Pay or credit card. The store is not cashless, but it is following in this trend and ultimately wants to save the customer time. Card payment is indeed often faster than cash payment. And instead of having paper guides for beers or hiring employees to take orders for food products, the store has tablets that customers can use to look up information or place takeaway orders.

The concept in video

The concept in Photos

Bertrand Leseigneur
Retail Innovation Correspondent USA
Based in New York, Bertrand is the Innovation Retail correspondent of the Echangeur in the USA, he decodes the latest American concept stores !!
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