December 30, 2008

Whole Foods Merchandise Integration

Here's an interesting article on Whole Foods and social media.

Of course, I'm more interested in multichannel marketing, and there's a tidbit at the end of this article that is worth consideration. From Marla Erwin of Whole Foods:
  • "One thing many people don't understand is that Whole Foods is incredibly decentralized --- each store sets its own policies, decides its own product selection, even uses its own recipes in the deli".
Here's what we need to think about.

Silo-busters and multichannel pundits tell us that we have to integrate our websites with our stores, and that we have to integrate our advertising with our websites and stores. You tell us that we have to offer the same merchandise in all stores/channels at the same price, or we will lose customers and create a terrible customer experience for the few customers who continue shopping with us. You demand that we centralize our merchandising strategy.


And then we have Whole Foods, who does the exact opposite of what our industry leaders tell us to do. Whole Foods is, by most accounts, wildly successful. In fact, Whole Foods is not alone. Many retailers customize stores for the markets they serve, offering unique products and services in Dallas, while offering different ones in Portland (Nordstrom did this, for example).

Each store is a micro-channel, representing a unique opportunity to be different, to serve a niche. Our websites and marketing strategy can still support each store without having to adhere to multichannel best practices.

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