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365 by Whole Foods - Review Six Weeks After Opening

A comprehensive review of 365 by Whole Foods first location, six weeks after opening.

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©2016 InfoScout • Confidential
365 by Whole Foods Review
Prepared by Jennifer Beasley, Retail Practice Lead
July 2016
Contents
• Overview
• Parking Lot
• Overall Decor
• Entrance – including Floral and Teabot
• Departments
Produce, Prepared Foods, Meat, Seafood
Grocery, Frozen, Alcohol, Bakery
• Checkout
• Coffee Bar – including Juicero
• Restaurant - Chloe
• Loyalty
• Fun Tidbits
• Conclusion
365 by Whole Foods
Whole Foods opened 365 about six weeks ago. When it opened, experts and
curious customers galore shared their opinions. I thought it would be compelling
to see any adjustments and how customers are settling into shopping.
Verdict:
Overall, I found 365 to be a reasonably well-executed formula. While we can
certainly expect Whole Foods to make many more adjustments in future
locations, as it currently exists, the store is already compelling. One could easily
see how this formula that one could easily see being successfully expanded to
other markets across the country.
This is definitely a ‘Fresh’ store, with attention to detail that impacts the shopping
experience.
Parking Lot
In typical Whole Foods fashion, the parking lot is a struggle. Customer reviews
and industry pundits alike have referenced this in various reports. I spent several
hours, mid-day and while there were no parking attendants and the store was
busy, we did find a place to park.
6 Weeks Post Opening Grand Opening Party Before It Was 365
Decor
• As you’ve heard, the décor is minimal and scaled down from a typical WF. The
formula certainly gave the effect of a pared down effort but the result is a
comfortable shopping experience without distracting and unnecessary frills.
• The store has an exposed wood ceiling, concrete floors, pallet stacks, and an
element of simplicity that I personally found appealing.
Entrance – TeaBOT
Located directly inside the front door is the
TeaBOT. This techie/foodie concept allows you to
select your loose tea flavors (along with
concentration and temperatures).
Follow the easy prompts, pay at the station itself,
and you have a very high quality cup of tea that
fits nicely in the cart cupholders.
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365 by Whole Foods - Review Six Weeks After Opening

  • 1. ©2016 InfoScout • Confidential 365 by Whole Foods Review Prepared by Jennifer Beasley, Retail Practice Lead July 2016
  • 2. Contents • Overview • Parking Lot • Overall Decor • Entrance – including Floral and Teabot • Departments Produce, Prepared Foods, Meat, Seafood Grocery, Frozen, Alcohol, Bakery • Checkout • Coffee Bar – including Juicero • Restaurant - Chloe • Loyalty • Fun Tidbits • Conclusion
  • 3. 365 by Whole Foods Whole Foods opened 365 about six weeks ago. When it opened, experts and curious customers galore shared their opinions. I thought it would be compelling to see any adjustments and how customers are settling into shopping. Verdict: Overall, I found 365 to be a reasonably well-executed formula. While we can certainly expect Whole Foods to make many more adjustments in future locations, as it currently exists, the store is already compelling. One could easily see how this formula that one could easily see being successfully expanded to other markets across the country. This is definitely a ‘Fresh’ store, with attention to detail that impacts the shopping experience.
  • 4. Parking Lot In typical Whole Foods fashion, the parking lot is a struggle. Customer reviews and industry pundits alike have referenced this in various reports. I spent several hours, mid-day and while there were no parking attendants and the store was busy, we did find a place to park. 6 Weeks Post Opening Grand Opening Party Before It Was 365
  • 5. Decor • As you’ve heard, the décor is minimal and scaled down from a typical WF. The formula certainly gave the effect of a pared down effort but the result is a comfortable shopping experience without distracting and unnecessary frills. • The store has an exposed wood ceiling, concrete floors, pallet stacks, and an element of simplicity that I personally found appealing.
  • 6. Entrance – TeaBOT Located directly inside the front door is the TeaBOT. This techie/foodie concept allows you to select your loose tea flavors (along with concentration and temperatures). Follow the easy prompts, pay at the station itself, and you have a very high quality cup of tea that fits nicely in the cart cupholders.
  • 7. Entrance – TeaBOT TeaBOT menu screens and the filtered lid which allows you to have an ‘instant’ loose leaf tea without drinking the leaves.
  • 8. Entrance – Order Kiosk Next to the TeaBOT, on the right as you enter the store are order kiosks for ‘Fast Not Fake’ made- to-order food. Three kiosks are located here and one in the back of the store, where you pick the food up. Unfortunately, we were not able to actually order from these as the system wasn’t fully functional. We had to manually place the order, but the screens are well designed and we ordered a number of dishes directly from the associates.
  • 9. Entrance – Floral While there were many things I found interesting and innovative about 365, Floral was not one of them. A row of flowers against the front window is the entirety of the department, easily missed. In comparison to Trader Joe’s (who does a great job of varied offerings, attractive displays, and low prices), it was underwhelming.
  • 10. Produce • This store is focused on fresh, as is evidenced by the large square footage and wide selection. • The main area is supplemented by a colder produce room, and doesn’t appear to impede the flow of shop.
  • 11. Produce • It’s also focused on the customer experience. Pricing mostly by ‘each’ instead of by ‘pound’ is a much easier means for the customer to ID cost. • Much of the produce is displayed on pallet-type displays that do an effective job at conveying a value price message
  • 12. Produce • Organic produce is merchandised with regular produce, giving the consumer a clear option. • It’s also very attractively priced. We compared prices on 8 different produce items (regular and organic) versus Ralph’s and Smart & Final. 365 was in line with both retailers, and even less expensive in a couple of cases.
  • 13. Produce Attention to detail is clear throughout the store, even the produce weigh stations had an element of cool.
  • 14. Prepared Foods – Order Kiosk Window • As you transition from produce to prepared foods, along the back wall is an area to pick up your made-to-order food. • Employees were a bit confused due to ordering kiosks being down, but otherwise it was a good experience. • Screen at top shows when your order is ready
  • 15. Prepared Foods – Order Kiosk Window With two of us on the trip, we tasted about 18 dishes in total. Hands down, the best thing we ate (outside of the Chloe restaurant) were the gourmet hotdogs.
  • 16. Prepared Foods – Hot Foods Bar, Salad Bar As expected, there was a rich diversity of hot foods (many international dishes) and cold foods on the salad bar. One of the challenges at Whole Foods has always been the food doesn’t palatably eat as well as it looks. During this visit, we sampled many of the dishes and the quality was better than expected, with Tikka Chicken being the best.
  • 17. Prepared Foods – Hot Bar Packaging Hot bar packaging was created with the customer in mind as well. Being flat priced by the package size rather than by weight makes it easier for the customer to know how much they are spending, key to millennials.
  • 18. Prepared Foods – Pizza In preparation of my visit, I read over 250 customer reviews online. One of the repeated complaints, and an issue I observed, is that the pizza does not stay hot enough. It was decidedly our least favorite dish. We also struggled with the packaging (as did others I witnessed).
  • 19. Prepared Foods – What’s for dinner? Thinking about issues customers have to deal with daily, “What’s for dinner?” is top of mind. 365 created cases of prepared ‘ingredients’ that would make it easy to put together a meal with limited prep and effort. These ranged from produce to protein to grains, were all reasonably priced and very fresh.
  • 20. Prepared Foods – Grab and Go Cases A long row of grab and go prepared items, ranging from curry salad, sandwiches, sushi, and much more was heavily shopped by customers. As with the hot bar and made-to-order foods, the quality and taste were better than expected.
  • 21. Frozen Much like grocery, there was a reasonable breadth of frozen categories, just not a depth of variety. In reading many online shopper reviews, the sliding doors for the frozen cases are a problem during heavily shopped hours as they impede adjacent customers when you open them.
  • 22. Grocery – Depth & Breadth While this is definitely a Fresh store, there was a reasonable breadth of grocery categories, though the selection wasn’t deep, akin to what you’d find in Trader Joe’s. Missing were the health and beauty organic products that we are accustomed to seeing at Whole Foods.
  • 23. Grocery - Specials Examples of ‘Flash Finds’ – unique and reasonably priced items found in the grocery section
  • 24. Grocery – Enough to Be Primary Shop? Yes, for customers who are happy with lots of fresh product and one or two items of choice in grocery. Additionally, there is a large assortment of bulk items and I observed a substantial number of shoppers who required carts.
  • 25. Meat & Seafood - Packaging The #1 thing I noticed about Meat and Seafood was the packaging. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Vacuum packed and beautifully done. The product looks fresh and appealing, and this packaging shows it off better than methods I’ve seen employed anywhere else.
  • 26. Meat, Seafood – Depth and Price While the depth of product isn’t as much as you’d find at a normal Whole Foods, there is certainly enough here to be your primary store. Additionally, the prices were very reasonable. Here, salmon was on sale for $6.99/lb.
  • 27. Alcohol 365 has a good assortment of beer and wine, both in terms of home stocking and drink in store varieties.
  • 29. Alcohol In two location they had kiosks to help you with your selections. It was difficult to figure out how to use – a wine merchant and I spent 5 minutes figuring out how to scan a bottle. Once we got our bottle to scan, the information was compelling and would help in making selections.
  • 30. Bakery Tucked into the front right corner is a row of bread and a small case of cookies and pastries. The cookies we sampled were dry and gave the impression the product had not turned enough to keep it fresh. The category as a whole feels like not enough selection has been included.
  • 31. Checkout The checkout lanes are fed by one long line (NY style). I timed waits on 6 different occasions between 11:30am and 1pm and they averaged 3 minutes. Customers in line grumbled a bit, but I heard people remark that it was moving fast. All in all, the checkout process was smooth, with the cashier even not charging us full price for half empty flat fee prepared foods containers. She cheerfully told us she’s only charge half and we’d know for next time to fill them on up!
  • 32. Checkout - Express There are a couple of express lanes for 5 items or less, which were manned. These lanes were not being heavily used as most people had more than 5 items.
  • 33. Allegro Coffee Bar In the right front corner is the Allegro Coffee Bar, adjacent to the in store seating. Key offerings include cortados, standard coffees, teas, and Juicero.
  • 34. Coffee Bar – Juicero As part of the Allegro Coffee Bar is a station called Juicero. Using the packets found in the bottom of the cabinet pictured, you can juice the product to obtain a ‘fresh’ glass of juice. During our visit, Juicero was not functional, but the Allegro associates told us they often sample and it is popular.
  • 35. Out of Stocks For the most part, the store was in good condition. There were several holes, but not many. However, it does appear that their electronic signage attempts to account for OOS’s. Some of their prices actually said ‘OOS’ instead of the price. In most of these cases, there were still a few items left on the shelf (as in the mango example in this picture). Clearly their inventory systems are not completely honed and there are still challenges to resolve here.
  • 36. Restaurant - Chloe Celebrity chef Chloe has a vegan restaurant in the front, left corner. During lunch it was completely packed. The offerings were interesting (ex. fresh coconut water). Of the four things we sampled here, all were surprisingly good (especially when considering we both are meat lovers) with the vegan BBQ being outstanding.
  • 37. Loyalty – My 365, Online 365 has its own loyalty program called My 365. You register online and get a variety of benefits such as: dollars off your total order with threshold, discounts on products, and e-punch cards (ex. Buy 8 get next 2 free) for various things like berries, salad greens, rotisserie, and more.
  • 38. Loyalty – My 365, Online Examples of value provided through My 365. To register for these, you must ‘activate’ them online and then use your phone number at register in store.
  • 39. Loyalty – My 365, In Store It wasn’t overwhelming, but the signage in store for participating in their new loyalty program, My 365 was present. During my checkout, I used my phone number to get the discounts I registered for and the process was seemless.
  • 40. Fun Tidbits – Amusing Verbiage Throughout the store are funny and amusing verbiage in their customer communication. This one says ‘chug’ before you head outside to dine al fresco.
  • 41. Fun Tidbits – Packaging & Clean Foods As expected with Whole Foods: • The 365 packaging comes across as environmentally friendly • Foods are signed as antibiotic – hormone free • A full recycling program is in place in the eating areas
  • 42. Fun Tidbits – Depth of Selection While some grocery categories had little depth, other categories (like iced coffee) had many choices.
  • 43. Fun Tidbits – Depth of Selection Still thinking about their customer, here they are offering free coffee to DD’s.
  • 44. Fun Tidbits – Puppy Prepared I saw several dogs in store, shopping with their humans and given that so many people were eating on location, 365 is prepared with water bowls for these special companions.
  • 45. Conclusion - Editorial This was the first time I’ve ever shopped a Whole Foods store and I didn’t feel like I left a big chunk of my wallet behind. Paired with good service, reasonable assortment, interesting tech, food that actually tastes good, and thoughtful touches overall, I believe this is a format that could easily be exported to other markets. Ultimately, while it is particularly appealing to millennials, I believe it can effectively speak to multiple generations of varied geographies as well. Will it solve all of Whole Foods challenges? No, but smart grocery retailers across the US should prepare for this new formula.
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