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The Wall Street Journal reports that Whole Foods is "investing heavily in IT infrastructure" as it looks to generate as much information about its customers as possible, provide shoppers with information about "food’s impact on their bodies and the environment," and create systems that make it easier for customers to shop its stores.

"The Austin, Texas-based grocer announced a number of new digital initiatives over the past few weeks as it tries to lure more customers through brick-and-mortar and online channels," the Journal writes. "Whole Foods will be one of the first participants in Apple Inc.’s Apple Pay program, and also said it is in the early stages of developing and testing a rewards program." And, Whole Foods has "inked a deal with Instacart to test home delivery and pickup in select cities. Instacart lets shoppers order groceries via its website or mobile app, and delivers them in as little as an hour. Both initiatives will tap into the grocer’s data sharing initiative."

“It’s not just about building custom systems or implementing package solutions,” says CIO Jason Buechel. "We need to take a broader look at the different customer ecosystems going on, and how do we plug into those?”

The challenge, Buechel says, is to make the various systems both seamless and complementary. As customers get more digital choices, he tells the Journal, “the responsibility on our side is making sure that we’re not confusing, that we show them the path they can take and how they can take it.”
KC's View:
It will be interesting to see how this new approach to IT is reflected in the Whole Foods shopping experience. I'm a fairly regular Whole Foods shopper, if not one who tends to buy a lot there; there is a store within walking distance of my house, and there are certain items there that I like to buy, though I can't afford to go there with my entire shopping list.

Among their goals should be to take someone like me, use information about what I'm buying, and use their systems to find ways to get me to make one or two more purchases in each trip. Let's see if that happens.