Is Digital Everything? Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Provides a Clue

If you read or listen to the media, yes it is. Streaming and downloading has changed the way we access video. E-commerce continues to morph the entire retail landscape. Banking and financial transactions — including mortgages — can be done entirely online. Digital advertising provides one-to-one communication with a customer, and overwhelming amounts of customer data for the advertiser. And everyone’s other favorite thing to talk about: Millennials are different in every way, and they are all-digital, all the time.

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Those things are true, which made me very curious about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Market last week. Currently, it’s reported that Whole Foods will continue to operate separately, so it’s a company alignment vs. consumption.

The pundits are speculating, too: Is (Amazon founder and CEO) Jeff Bezos using Whole Foods as a living laboratory to better learn how customers shop for groceries? Does he see an opportunity to leverage Amazon’s expertise in logistics and technology to improve the lagging Whole Foods? Or will Whole Foods become delivery stations for Amazon’s home delivery grocery service?

It very well may be a combination of reasons — plus others that have yet to be revealed ­­— but they all seem to stem from improving the customer experience, and better understanding the customer journey, with increased profit the likely result.

Very few companies have Amazon-level resources, but all companies can collect customer data. As a company and an advertiser, are you leveraging your tools to collect data about your current customers? If you are, are you doing anything with it?

Due to lack of resources or expertise, not every company puts its data into action. But that doesn’t leave you in the cold. You may not be able to use your data, but digital advertising partners leverage unbelievable amounts of information about online shopping, online consumer behavior, and the consumers themselves to build incredibly sophisticated methods to speak to customers and prospects along their purchase journey.

So, is digital everything? I’d say, not yet. But it is absolutely vital in both advertising and commerce today, and can be leveraged in surprising ways. Just ask Jeff Bezos. Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods is definitely a clue.

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