Whole Foods, which this week already has announced that it plans to close nine store and slow down its expansion plans because of disappointing sales and profits, said yesterday that it "has selected dunnhumby as a strategic partner to evolve Whole Foods Market’s category management and merchandising fueled by customer data and insights" that "will enable Whole Foods Market to create the shopping experiences customers want, helping them find the products, services, brands, sizes, and flavors they are looking for faster and easier. As product choices and preferences change and vary by location, using data to provide customers with the most relevant shopping experience is the best way to satisfy their needs and earn long-term loyalty."
- KC's View:
I'm told that this is a big win for dunnhumby, the first big national account win since its split from Kroger, though it has had success working with Raley’s on the west coast and Metro in Canada.
I'm sure that one of the attractions for Whole Foods is the fact that Kroger did so well using dunnhumby technology, but Kroger had this success over a decade. Whole Foods doesn't have that kind of time. The success of this pairing will depend to a great extent on speed of execution, and Whole Foods' ability to integrate the dunnhumby offering into things like its nascent frequent shopper program.
One expert told me that "Whole Foods needs to better align with their changing customer. Time is not on any retailer's side, so it is imperative that this change happen sooner, than later." I totally agree. This move by Whole Foods makes sense, but now they have to deliver on the promise.