Amid stiff competition from smaller chains and grocery delivery services like AmazonFresh, shiny happy grocer Whole Foods is looking to appeal to a broader audience by actually offering a deal. According to Bloomberg, Whole Foods may soon offer a rewards program — a concept the company has resisted for more than 30 years. A spokesperson for Whole Foods confirms that the company plans on testing the program in a store in Princeton, New Jersey this month and will expand the trial to Philadelphia towards the end of this year. The plan is to launch the program nationwide by late 2015.
Customers will be given the option of a physical rewards card as well as a mobile app that can be downloaded for iOS. They will then be able to earn points that can be "redeemed for discounts and store experiences" such as cooking classes. The trial period for the rewards program test is expected to last about six to eight months.
Whole Foods has never offered deals or discounts (except for the occasional Living Social offer) in order to reel in customers. However, as of late, the company has been suffering financially, even though their hot foods section has become a major profit center. This year alone, Whole Foods' stock has fallen "35 percent" and CNN notes that it's the "worst performer in the S&P 500." Now that competitors like Costco, Kroger, Trader Joe's, and even Wal-Mart are offering organic, locally-sourced food (or what some might call Whole Foods' original 'bread and butter') at a much more affordable price point, the do-gooder chain is finally evolving beyond its exclusive niche.
· Whole Foods to Test Rewards Program [Bloomberg]
· Whole Foods Stock Is Rotting Away [CNN]
· All Whole Foods Coverage on Eater [-E-]