Robots often stand in for human salespeople at the first 365, an offshoot of Whole Foods that opens in L.A. in two weeks. Grocery shoppers can stop by the teaBot for a cup of freshly brewed tea, or use the Banquet app to get wine recommendations. Evidently the struggling company is desperate to cut costs, but it might be better off investing in omnichannel improvements than tea-serving robots.
Whole Foods is the lowest-ranking Average brand in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Big Box, where it ranks 42nd of 61 brands. The brand site does little to encourage purchase: blog posts and recipe videos do not include purchase links or locators, and catering trays are the only products with their own pages.
While the brand has heavily promoted its coupon app as a sign of its digital-first approach, few of the coupons can be applied to the fresh and organic foods that differentiate Whole Foods from mainstream competitors like Kroger and Walmart. And while the app informs users which items are on sale in their local stores, it does not let them check the availability of regularly-priced items. With rivals stepping up investments in omnichannel services such as click-and-collect, Whole Foods should consider similar moves to avoid further encroachments on its market share.