Up until about 5 years ago, most people were creating their grocery lists on a small note pad or, even, on their phones. And with that list, they would go into the grocery store and hand pick the items they needed for the dishes they would create that week or maybe even the next two weeks. But, now, with the advancement of technology, your grocery items can be delivered to you in an instant with just a couple of taps on your smartphone. The recent online grocery delivery phenomenon today can be attributed by two main things: the overall increase of online delivery services in general and COVID-19. In recent years, the use of food delivery apps increased significantly to the point that the restaurant industry today depends on the apps in order to generate profit. And with COVID-19 affecting most to all aspects of daily life, there has been an increase use of food delivery service apps and online grocery delivery service apps like Amazon Fresh and Amazon Whole Foods as well.
Amazon: The Beginning of a Revolution
Amazon was first launched on July 5, 1994 in Seattle by Jeff Bezos and his wife. It was originally an online bookstore, and, at the time, its primary competitors were Barnes and Noble and Borders. And starting in the late 1990s, Amazon began to expand their range of services beyond just selling books. From music, like CDs, to clothing items, Amazon also began to open its platform to third party sellers so that other vendors and stores would be able to sell their products through Amazon – which is one of the main ways Amazon is able to thrive today.
After its first decade as a company, Amazon began to expand their services even more and have become increasingly globalized. Starting in 2005, Amazon launched Amazon Prime which has completely revolutionized Amazon and the e-commerce world. Today, Prime members can get free shipping (with most of the prime eligible items guaranteed free 2-day shipping) and free access to Prime Videos and ad-free Music.
From 2007 to 2014, Amazon began its acquisitions with Kindle, Audible, and Twitch – all services that many users across the world are familiar with. And Amazon began to its expand its market globally to other countries like European countries. Also, Amazon began developing their own technology (Echo) and Artificial Intelligence services called Alexa. Amazon is now competing with other big brand AI services like Google and Siri from Apple Company. And in 2017, Amazon made its decision to acquire Whole Foods Market.
Amazon’s intentions to acquire Whole Foods Market was to expand its range of services and to explore the grocery delivery system. During this time, apps like Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash and GrubHub were establishing presence as a food delivery app. Along the way, grocery delivery service apps like Instacart were gaining more customers too. And Whole Foods Market’s intentions to accept this acquisition was to better their brand image as a company and to increase the overall customer appeal in organic and healthy foods. Through the Amazon website or app, prime members can add any grocery items that you could find in a Whole Food Market in their cart, press confirm order, and have their groceries delivered to their door within 2 hours or pick it up at their local Whole Foods Market.
Amazon Fresh, however, is a separate entity in Amazon’s service for online grocery shopping. The Fresh service can include products from Whole Foods Market, but also includes products from other third-party grocers and Amazon’s own grocery producer, which is generally new and currently is in development. Same as the system with Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh offers free 2-hour delivery to your door or you could pick up at a local Amazon Fresh storefront. But even now, Amazon Fresh storefronts are expanding. At these storefronts, Amazon users could pick up their groceries they ordered on the app, use Alexa (Amazon’s own Artificial Intelligence assistant) for guidance throughout the store, and can use Dash Carts in order to avoid checkout and pay through the screens on carts.
Amazon: Circuit of Culture
Analyzing Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market through Amazon, the 5 Circuit of Culture (Representation, Identity, Production, Consumption, Regulation) applies significantly.
Representation & Identity
Focusing on the Representation aspect of the Circuit of Culture, Amazon represents itself as the new potential lead in the online grocery service game through the way they advertise their service. Looking at the banners on their websites, there is a great repeated emphasis on these three attributes: free, unlimited, and 2-hour delivery. Through these attributes, Amazon is doing its best to highlight its speedy and convenient service. Also, looking at the Amazon logo, itself, there is an arrow going from the letter A to Z – clearly indicating that Amazon is able to provide all types of services and items from A to Z. And looking at the Amazon Fresh, the word “Fresh” is green and the “r” in “Fresh” has a leaf – creating an appeal for health and nutrition to the audience. This helps to deduct who the main significant customer base is for Amazon, which leads to how the Identity aspect of the Circuit of Culture applies. Just by the very fact that grocery shopping through Amazon requires a basic understanding of technology, the customer base are people who are familiar with the e-commerce world today and have access to a smartphone and/or internet. Amazon’s identity is attributed to the e-commerce revolution today and how millions of people around the world are using technology to get by in their day to day lives.
Production & Consumption
The Production and Consumption aspects of the Circuit of Culture is how Amazon is able to continue its service and how the company is able to increase customer appeal. To begin with, on the Production side, there are Whole Food Market, Amazon Fresh storefronts, and other third-party producers are the ones manufacturing, producing, transporting, and providing the items to Amazon users. And there are grocery shoppers for users who want to order Whole Food Market items through the Amazon app. Amazon, as a technology company, is a producer as well since the company is working day to day to make sure the service app is up to date and working. Those who are working on the app are also making efforts by either visually reframing the app or by marketing in order to gain more website traction and increase usage. On the Consumption side, users have to download the app or go on the website in order to scope through the products that they need; users have access to items from Whole Foods Market, Amazon Fresh, and Amazon Pantry (Pantry is a separate subsidiary where they focus more on selling processed foods or household items like paper towels). Users are also able to consume their chosen grocery items by getting it delivered to them within 2-hour. Also, through the Amazon algorithm, Amazon is able to understand the users’ shopping pattern so that they could suggest an item to them or remind users when to restock on some toilet papers.
And finally, looking at the Regulation aspect of the Circuit of Culture, Amazon is focus on 2 of multiple things: security and quality check. Given that users have to give their personal information like credit card information, home address, and email address, there can be worry that hackers can somehow find their personal information leading to consequence like credit card fraud, personal identity fraud, and etc. In order to reassure customers that their security will not be breached, Amazon asks their users to repeatedly enter in their card security code, users must have an account password, and there are email confirmation confirming that order was place. And on the email confirmations, there is a side note stating if the customer did not purchase the item, the customer can fill out a claim/report. Another aspect of security is security from contracting COVID-19. Given these unprecedented times, many customers are curious about how the service will adjust to COVID-19. Therefore, Amazon has created a separate FAQs section on their website and app, and they stated that all deliveries and pickups will be contact free and customers can choose their delivery windows to choose when they want their items to come. In terms of quality check, the free 2-hour delivery help to ensure high quality and Amazon indicated that there are making sure that there is a sustained temperature control for all items – especially for grocery items that are perishable.
Overall, just as much Amazon has revolutionized the e-commerce world today, Amazon is on its way to revolutionizing how people are getting their groceries. There was once a time where people would jot their grocery list for items, they needed for a time being. But, now through Amazon, the list can be equivalent to the checkout cart on the app and people can get their grocery items whenever they want to. These services reduce the time going to the stores, reduce the usage of transportations in order to get to the stores, and reduce the chances of mistakenly forgetting any items and going back. Overall, Amazon is working to increase convenience for all its users in by providing the needed kitchen items in an instant!