business news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Amazon “is offering quick grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores in Chicago and other cities until 2 p.m. on Thursday, an experiment in applying last-minute convenience to holiday meal prep that has already given it an edge with holiday gift shoppers … Amazon’s bet on Thanksgiving is the latest example of how retailers, startups and venture capitalists are trying anything and everything to eke out an advantage as grocery sales move online.”

One study, by supply chain company JDA Software, predicts that “16 percent of people preparing holiday meals will order groceries online, half of them for the first time,” the story says.
KC's View:
Amazon has long worked to make itself the first and often best choice for almost anything that consumers want, but in this case, it also is working to make itself the best last-minute option as well. (The Bloomberg story makes the point that last year, “Amazon delivered its final Christmas order - which included a remote control toy car - at 11:58 p.m. on Dec. 24.)

I’m not sure how big online shopping for holiday meals is going to get, but I’d guess that whatever percentage I’d pick would end up being lower than the reality. This may reflect my bias - as big as I am on online shopping, I went yesterday to five different stores to pic up various components of our family Thanksgiving meal (and I have at least 2-3 more stores to hit today and tomorrow).

(There are different trends taking place at the same time, interestingly enough; the Chicago Tribune had a story the other day about how there is a segment of the population - and not just people who think that “Portlandia” is a documentary - that wants to go out to turkey farms, see the conditions and actually meet the turkeys before choosing one for Thanksgiving. Not me, by the way. No way.)

The reality, it seems to me, is that food retailers - all of them - need to think about how they’re going to approach these changing consumer habits. I would urge them not to think about the competition (though that’s important), and not necessarily to think about all the money venture capitalists are throwing at this segment, but to focus instead on the shopper - and how they actually are behaving and will behave in the future, not how they’d like them to behave.

That’s where true wisdom resides.