guy at grocery store shopping for produce

Amazon and Whole Foods Know the Importance of Customer Experience

(and Their Increased Revenue Proves You Should Too)

As 21st century marketers, we have the advantage of learning from our contemporaries in real-time. There’s no shortage of businesses to stalk and marketing gurus to follow. With so much activity, it’s hard to catch (and analyze) every move in the business. But when industry leaders make a big move, it’s time to pull out our note-taking apps!

Enter: Amazon. The behemoth started as a simple online book retailer. Today, they’re changing retail both on and offline. How? Two years ago, Amazon acquired Whole Foods. Since the acquisition, Amazon has implemented initiatives that take the customer experience at Whole Foods to new heights. So, what can we learn from the marriage of Amazon and Whole Foods?

Today, much of the conversation around customer experiences focuses on omnichannel marketing efforts. But many of these customer experiences live behind the screen of customers’ devices. Improving all aspects of customer experience is vital to the health of a company. But this focus has led many businesses to neglect their on-site customer touchpoints.

When Amazon acquired Whole Foods, they looked beyond the online customer experience. Amazon put initiatives in place to beef up the Whole Foods on-site customer experience. As the leader in organic grocery stores with an endless inventory of exclusive specialty products, Whole Foods already had a strong value proposition to get shoppers in the door. But this push gives consumers even more reason to choose Whole Foods over other organic—and standard—supermarkets.

Quite the accomplishment for a business that started and thrives primarily online!

Still not quite convinced that on-site customer experience is important?

Let's look at these reported numbers:

In its annual benchmark report, Forrester revealed that Whole Foods increased its Customer Experience score by 3.6 points. According to Forrester, for each point a brand increases its score, it can expect about a 2% increase in sales per customer.

So, did a Customer Experience score increase do anything to increase revenue for Whole Foods? Yes! Amazon reported a 6% increase in combined physical and digital sales for Whole Foods in the fourth and first quarters. Also, an industry report by inMarket, revealed that foot traffic increased by 16.5% in Q1 of 2019 compared to that of Q1 2018. Some of the tactics Amazon used to increase foot traffic have encouraged the growth of what inMarket calls “micro visits.” These visits, lasting 5 minutes or less have reportedly increased by 10%. But considering the staggering 16.5% growth in overall foot traffic, it’s clear that customers are flocking to Whole Foods for more than quick, in-and-out visits.

So, how did they do it?

They started with the obvious: Amazon created a better digital shopping experience by weaving Whole Foods products into their Prime Now program.

But they didn’t stop there.

Amazon started offering more value. And innovating on-site customer experiences that would move customers to choose Whole Foods over their other options. They added Amazon Lockers to some Whole Foods locations. The lockers offer Amazon customers another option for receiving their order. Plus, Prime members receive a discount, mitigating the Whole Foods reputation as the grocer who takes your “Whole Paycheck.”

Whole Foods has always been a beacon for specialty products. But with the backing of Amazon, Whole Foods has increased its product offerings, giving customers more choices in stores. Customers can enjoy fresh-pressed juice or kombucha on tap, a hot slice of pizza, and gelato for dessert all while perusing the aisles. 

And early this summer, they launched their first convenience store Customers can now get the same great incentives and quality products in a convenient, mini-mart shopping experience.

Amazon has deftly struck a balance between the need for speed, lower prices, and more products while preserving the Whole Foods brand.

In addition to all their other initiatives, they also integrated a self-checkout option. But they’ve maintained a strong front-end staff. Whole Foods was built on a reputation for personal customer service and a commitment to people and their communities. These values are a large part of what drove customers to choose Whole Foods for years—and have kept them willing to pay a little more. So far, Amazon has stayed true to the Whole Foods brand as they’ve innovated.

The bottom line: Amazon is giving customers a reason to come to the store.

And the reports prove that giving customers a reason to come in is worth the investment. Delighting guests with outstanding customer experience leads to increased revenue and foot traffic.

So, how can you improve the on-site customer experience in your business?

No matter the type of business you operate, dazzling your customers with unique or useful experiences will prove valuable. The methods you choose to enrich your customer’s experience will depend largely on your business.

To begin, think about the niche your business fills.

Then answer the 4 most important questions:

Who are your customers?

What are their needs?

How are you currently filling their needs?

And how can you better fill their needs on-site?

Sometimes customer needs are concrete things. Amazon and Whole Foods customers needed a better way to order groceries and get their packages. They needed convenience without losing access to high-quality products and a luxury shopping experience.

But sometimes customer needs can be a little more abstract. Consumers today are looking for brands that can make them feel something. They’re looking for brands that can make a strong brand promise—and deliver on it. But meeting these abstract customer needs can be tricky. It’s about building relationships. And as we all know relationships aren’t easy.

There are lots of ways to build relationships with customers. Developing loyalty plans (like the Prime member discount at Whole Foods), connecting with customers through an active social media presence, and asking for feedback are all great ways to bridge the gap.

But one of the most effective ways to build relationships is by exceeding expectations. And surprisingly, it’s easier than you think. Set realistic expectations with customers—and then exceed them.

Sadly, there’s a massive hole in the market as brands drag their feet to meet customer expectations in the twenty-first century. In fact, more than 50% of consumers across the globe agree that brands rarely live up to their promises.

Brands that internalize the idea of exceeding expectations are the ones that thrive today. That means going above and beyond to create an outstanding on-site customer experience. Scent marketing is a secret weapon for building customer relationships and exceeding on-site customer expectations.


Scent marketing allows you to tell your brand story intuitively. We experience the world through our senses and scent is among our most powerful. A congruent branded fragrance can communicate what your brand stands for in seconds. It helps you create consistent branded experiences that instinctively build customer trust and loyalty.

Improving your customer experience with scent marketing is easy. Any business with on-site customer touchpoints can benefit from the intuitive power of scent.

Ready to discover what scent marketing can do for your on-site customer experience? Click here to fill out our business inquiry form.

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Work Cited

The Experience Brand Index (Rep.). (2018). Jack Morton. doi:201