TECHNOLOGY

Amazon continues to expand Prime perks at Whole Foods Market

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Prime discounts are coming to even more Whole Foods Market stores.

Starting this week, Amazon is expanding its Prime discounts program to Whole Foods stores in 10 additional states, including Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Oregon, North Carolina and Washington. The move means the discounts, which include an extra 10% off sale items, will be available in half of Whole Foods’ store network.

This is Amazon’s second wave of stores to add Prime perks. In May, the online giant expanded its Prime member savings program to 121 Whole Foods stores across 12 states, as well as across all Whole Foods Market 365 stores nationwide. The new stores also mark the beginning of Amazon’s nationwide rollout of Prime across all Whole Foods stores.

“We’re excited that Prime savings will be available at nearly half of our Whole Foods Market stores this week,” said A.C. Gallo, president and COO at Whole Foods Market. “Based on the positive customer feedback and successes we’ve seen over the past month, we’re accelerating our timeline to expand these savings to all of our U.S. stores.”

Prime member savings also apply to groceries delivered from Whole Foods Market stores via Prime Now. Both Prime member savings and Prime Now grocery delivery are available in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco. Prime Now offers free two-hour delivery on orders over $35. Delivery from Whole Foods Market is currently available in 10 cities and will continue expanding throughout 2018.

The Prime discounts come at a price, however. Amazon raised the price of its annual Prime membership to $119 from $99 in April. New members started paying the new rate in May, renewals kick in starting on June 16. This was the company’s first annual price increase since March 2014. The price was originally $79 before it jumped to $99.

To see all stores that offer Prime discounts, click here.

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TECHNOLOGY

Study: Consumers want ‘try before you buy’ payment option

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Consumers like shopping online — but a majority want the ability to see and/or try on items before they actually make a purchase.

In fact, nearly three quarters (74%) of consumers said that having the ability to try on or sample goods before paying would remove a major drawback to online shopping, according to a study from payment provider Klarna.

A “try before you buy” option, which gives consumers a set amount of time to receive and evaluate goods before being billed, ranks as the number one preferred payment option for buying apparel from an online retailer (37%). This significantly eclipsed other available options, including credit cards (20%), debit cards (16%), PayPal or store credit cards (11%), three evenly split payments every 30 days or four evenly split payments every 14 days (2%).

Sixty nine percent of consumers felt that it would be appealing to be able to order an assortment of products to try/wear before paying for them. This was particularly evident when respondents were asked about apparel items, with 85% indicating they would order one to five or more items to try on at home if they did not have to pay for them in advance.

“Fashion fit and look can be difficult to judge from product descriptions, digital photos and videos alone,” said Elizabeth Bramlage, head of U.S. marketing, Klarna. “By offering a ‘pay later’ option, consumers are finally able to bring the fitting room into their own homes and have the peace of mind that they will only ever be responsible to pay for the items they love.”

Try before you buy is so appealing that 71% of those surveyed indicated they would use this payment method if it was offered, and another 71% stated they would be moderately, very or completely likely to choose a retailer offering a try before you buy option over one who did not offer this option. Sixty nine percent of consumers surveyed said they would be moderately, very or completely likely to buy more items from online merchants offering this payment option.

“These results show that the ‘try before you buy’ concept would bolster consumer confidence in purchasing goods online and enable retailers to experience significantly improved average order values,” said Bramlage. “As we’ve learned previously from our studies of instant financing options, merchants that go the extra mile to remove friction in online shopping, will find they are rewarded with more business and converted sales.”

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The ‘go-to’ online retailer is…

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

When American shoppers click or use their voice to place online order, one retailer is getting a majority of their attention.

Of the nearly seven in 10 Americans (69%) that have purchased an item online, 92% said they have bought an item through Amazon, according to a new NPR/Marist Poll.

According to data, 44% of online shoppers said that Amazon is their first stop when making an online purchase. This outshines Google (33%), the apps or websites of a specific store (10%), a specific brand online (6%), or an online marketplace such as eBay or Etsy (5%).

Sixty four percent of online shoppers are Amazon Prime users. More than four in 10 Americans (44%), have used Amazon Prime, which includes 30% who are personally a Prime member and an additional 14% who share someone else’s membership. This means that nearly two in three online shoppers (64%) are either an Amazon Prime member (44%), or share someone else’s Prime membership (20%).

Customers also trust the online giant with their personal data. In fact, 67% of online shoppers trust the company to protect their privacy and personal information. This contrasts with the overall perception of online retailers, as a majority of online shoppers (52%) said they either don’t have very much (38%) or have no confidence at all (14%) in most online retailers to keep consumers’ personal data secure.

Online shopping has also changed the habits of American shoppers. For example, 90% of online shoppers prefer free shipping even if an item takes longer to arrive. A majority of customers (88%) are attracted to the ability to shop day or night and ability to find a product easily. Meanwhile, 78% like online shopping because they don’t have to deal with lines of people.

When deciding whether to shop online instead of going to a store, 39% of shoppers cite the speed in which they need an item as the most important determining factor. Difficulty in getting to the store (23%) and the price of an item (23%) follow. Nearly four in ten online shoppers (39%) say an online retailer’s free return policy largely influences their decision to buy online.

Fifty six percent of those who shop virtually said the availability of recommendations by the online retailer is influential in their decision to make their purchase online. This includes 18% who consider it to be a major component in their decision.

Customers are increasingly willing to purchase across different categories online, including the 84% of online shoppers that have purchased clothes or shoes from a digital retailer. Only 20% of Amazon shoppers who buy clothes or shoes online have done so at Amazon.

Despite all this, a majority of Americans who shop online (56%) still prefer to shop in a brick and mortar store, according to the data.

“In just over two decades, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos has created a formidable enterprise with enormous influence that brings to mind the likes of John D. Rockefeller and Bill Gates,” says Pallavi Gogoi, chief business editor of NPR. “Bezos became the richest man in America by turning an online book store into a retail behemoth that wields enormous influence.”

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