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Whole Foods Market to shutter rewards program—and hints at something bigger

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is about to make a big move that will further integrate its business within Whole Foods Market.

The natural foods grocer will discontinue its rewards program and digital coupons on its mobile app and website starting May 2, indicating that it will soon be folded into the Amazon Prime program. The news was shared with Whole Foods loyalty members in an e-mail, according to MarketWatch.

In addition, Whole Foods is shutting down its in-store loyalty programs, such as Whole Body benefits, according to the company’s “Rewards, Digital Coupons and Online Accounts FAQ” page.

Customers must redeem loyalty rewards no later than May 1. Unused rewards and associated account benefits will not roll into any future programs, according to the company.

“We appreciate our customers for participating in this pilot program with us, but we’re retiring this program so we can get to work on new perks! Stay tuned for additional announcements for Amazon Prime members,” the FAQ page reported. The website did not reveal that the program will be merged within Amazon Prime.

The news also impacts the overall functionality of Whole Foods’ website and mobile app. All Whole Foods Market online accounts will be discontinued after May 1. The site’s Recipe Box service, which enables users to save recipes to their online account, and shopping list services can be downloaded as PDFs through May 1. After that, customers can browse online recipes that can be printed or downloaded onto their computers.

While the app will no longer feature digital coupons, it will still highlight store information, including store address, hours, phone numbers, events and local sales, according to Whole Foods.

This is not Amazon’s first move to integrate the two businesses. Within its first days under the online giant’s ownership, Whole Foods began selling Echo smart devices, and slashed prices on certain items.

The companies recently launched free, two-hour deliveries of natural and organic products from Whole Foods through Prime Now in Atlanta, San Francisco, Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach. The service is expected to expand across the U.S. throughout 2018.

The online giant also announced that Prime members using their Amazon Prime Rewards Visa card at Whole Foods now earn 5% back on all purchases. This is in addition to the rewards they already receive, including 5% back on all Amazon.com purchases, 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

Non-Prime members that have the Visa card are entitled to perks. They get 3% back at Whole Foods and on all Amazon purchases, 2% at restaurants, gas stations and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases.

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