Jeff Wilke, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, speaks at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Tuesday. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
Amazon Prime members can expect to get some deals when they shop at Whole Foods.
Jeff Wilke, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, spoke at the GeekWire Summit in Seattle on Tuesday and talked about the Whole Foods acquisition less than four months after Amazon announced its $13.7 billion purchase of the grocer that officially closed in late August.
Wilke, an 18-year veteran of Amazon, noted the crossover between Whole Foods customers and Amazon Prime members who pay $99 per year to receive benefits like free 2-day shipping, cloud storage, streaming video access.
“Both groups are great sets of customers,” he said. “We are going to try to do a lot to make Prime really valuable for when you’re shopping at Whole Foods.”
GeekWire Editor Todd Bishop (right) interviews Amazon exec Jeff Wilke. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire)
When the Whole Foods deal closed in August, Wilke noted that Amazon plans to “make Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods Market.”
This will be just the latest addition to Amazon’s Prime membership program, which is certainly popular — nearly everyone in the audience at the Summit raised their hands when asked if they subscribe to Prime. Subscribers generally tend to spend more with Amazon once they’ve signed up; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once said it’s the company’s goal to make it “irresponsible” for customers not to be a Prime member.
“All you can eat is a very nice way to approach guilt-free shopping,” Wilke said of the program.
The Whole Foods location in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. (GeekWire photo / Taylor Soper)
Wilke said Amazon has already integrated Whole Foods items into its own ways of delivering and ordering groceries. For example, just after the acquisition closed in August, Amazon immediately made hundreds of Whole Foods’ in-house brand items available on the AmazonFresh website.
Amazon also quickly lowered prices on various in-store Whole Foods items like salmon, avocados, apples, and more as a result of the deal.
“Customers loved it,” Wilke noted today.
Amazon has actually been experimenting with grocery-related services since 2007, when it first began testing its AmazonFresh delivery service in Seattle. It has also tested various other programs from Prime Pantry to Subscribe and Save to Amazon Go.
Amazon set up this Echo booth at the South Lake Union Whole Foods store near Amazon’s Seattle headquarters after the Whole Foods acquisition closed. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)
The acquisition of Whole Foods is yet another way Amazon is getting into grocery and food.
“We’ve tried to experiment, and when Whole Foods came along, we had a great opportunity to partner with a company that essentially invented the natural organic category who we can learn a ton from,” Wilke said. “What we’ll do over time is take the best of each of these and bring them together in ways that make sense to customers.”
Wilke said it’s possible that some of Amazon’s existing grocery services will shut down as a result of the Whole Foods deal.
“One thing I’ve learned in my 18 years is that nothing is permanent — other than that customers like low prices and not high prices, and a big selection, not a small selection,” he said.