Amazon is Buying Whole Foods Market: Great for Grocery Innovation

North American home cooks can expect even more convenient options and innovations to arrive over the next few years with Amazon’s announcement that they are acquiring Whole Foods. Moreover, the secondary competitive effects have a shot at finally ushering this once slow-moving but vital retail sector into a much more convenient and frictionless digital age.

The aggressive move, by far Amazon’s biggest acquisition to date, greatly expands Amazon’s currently minuscule brick-and-mortar retail footprint, and allows Amazon to much more rapidly scale services like grocery pick-up, home delivery and online ordering features.

Here in Seattle, we have a front-row seat to the innovations and experiments that Amazon has performed regarding grocery: delivery with Amazon Fresh, Dash Buttons, Amazon Go (“cashierless” stores), Amazon Fresh Pickup and more.

Whole Foods has 465 stores in North America and the United Kingdom, and according to Amazon it will continue to operate as a separate entity. Amazon has been a leader with grocery innovation, but so far it’s experiments have been small-scale. They’ve amassed considerable data on what works (and doesn’t) about grocery delivery, handheld voice tools, ambient voice devices like the Echo, cashierless shopping and consolidated grocery pickup.

We here at BigOven are always happy to see innovation in this once-sleepy but absolutely vital grocery industry, and today’s news is causing a lot of heads to turn among our partners in the industry.

Wall Street’s Early Read

Wall Street loves the deal — both Amazon and Whole Foods are up significantly:

And it knocked nearly $40 billion of market cap off of major grocery retailers and consumer packaged goods companies:

Our Take

We love to see innovation in the space and applaud Amazon for taking an aggressive, long-term step here to deliver more innovation to grocery. The US market for food and beverage is $795 billion, it’s the single highest-occasion shopping we do as consumers. Food and beverages accounts for 30% of all U.S. personal spending excluding cars and energy, according to Morgan Stanley.

On a data level, this gives Amazon a much clearer picture of consumers, and not just in the grocery category.

We are, after all, what we eat. Consumers express enormous implicit information when they buy at a grocery store. If you know consumer A is buying Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, chips and a case of Coors Light on a Friday afternoon in a transaction size of $38, and another is purchasing watercress, arugula and salmon in a $230 transaction on a Tuesday, you already know a lot about these two consumers. And that fuller picture will be used to better inform all recommendations.

We love to see innovation in grocery to make life easier for the home cook, it’s precisely what we’re about. For quite some time now, we’ve been wanting a world where home cooks could plan what they want to make, intelligently use up more of what they buy at the store, and instantly get items delivered to them (or pick them up) to make the perfect meal. This commitment by Amazon is terrific to see, as it alone should bring some great innovation. Its secondary effects might generate even more impact however — it is already causing some much-needed discussion in retailer and packaged good company boardrooms.

It’s high time things get even easier for home cooks. We are increasingly pressed for time, yet we still want to put a great meal on the table for our families. This massive transaction will no doubt push great chains like Kroger and Safeway further in completing their solutions for home cooks.

Amazon acquires:

  • Loads of data on high-end consumer buying preferences
  • Retail footprint
  • Distribution infrastructure for grocery delivery – employees, warehousing, food and produce sourcing, refrigeration, merchandising
  • Live retail labs for buying/merchandising
  • Logical delivery points for Echo, web and shopping list canvases

At BigOven, we’re all about using digital technology to improve the lifecycle of the home cook. This cycle, which hits daily has a large amount of cognitive load and physical hassle. Many of us love to cook, but find the process of figuring out what to make, planning, shopping challenging. We think the Amazon-Whole Foods transaction helps close that loop for Amazon, though it might not be fully aligned for all demographics (Whole Foods serves customers at the high end of the market).

After dabbling in various experiments in the grocery space, Amazon’s commitment signals a new digital era in grocery. In our view, given the size of grocery and its high occasion, it makes sense for Amazon to make grocery a strategic priority, as it fits with Amazon’s goal of being earth’s most customer-centric company. Amazon will continue to get great data on what consumers are buying to be able to deliver even more customized options.

The race is now on to own America’s shopping list, and if Amazon really wants to own it, they probably need a way to stock and deliver grocery items at scale. Players need a combination of assets such as:

  • Customer scale
  • Distribution infrastructure
  • Pick-up infrastructure
  • Digital platforms to look up recipes, manage a recipe collection, create plans and a grocery list
  • Planning tools with curated menu ideas
  • Household list management from any screen or canvas
  • Personalization and preference technologies

Amazon is known for market disruption, and we both welcome big bets like this in this category, and we expect to see counter-moves by big retailers like Albertsons Safeway, Kroger,  Trader Joe’s, Ahold Delhaize (Food Lion, Stop & Shop etc.) and others.

Across many categories of Amazon’s business, Walmart has been a chief rival, and this certainly ups the ante in the Amazon vs. Walmart competition. Amazon has certainly shown other retailers that unless they innovate, they’re in danger of being obsolete, as more and more purchase decisions will take place via ambient voice interaction, mobile and web, use machine learning for personalization and targeted deals, and much more.

But it won’t happen overnight, and Amazon initially gains primarily high-end grocery shopper coverage with this move. In addition to the logistical challenges of integrating a workforce with 67,000 employees, another major in our minds is whether the Whole Foods customer is (by and large) the same as the core Amazon customer, and also whether the core values of each institution match closely.

It also remains an open question whether the relatively high-end nature of the the Whole Foods customer fully aligns with Amazon’s core customer base. Another way to put this: you can’t buy Diet Coke or Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese at Whole Foods, and it’s for a deliberate reason — it’s in the name of the company itself. To achieve what we believe to be Amazon’s grander ambitions in the space to serve more than just the organics high-end purchaser, we predict that Whole Foods infrastructure will ultimately be used to expand downmarket — out horizontally from their current core base, likely via rebranding (e.g., Whole Foods becomes Amazon Fresh Organic, with Amazon Fresh offering the widest variety.) Not all home cooks are Whole Foods customers, though most of us here at BigOven are.

This presents a particularly interesting situation for Instacart. Whole Foods is an investor in Instacart, and one of Instacart’s top sources for delivery is Whole Foods. Instacart can continue to be a “Switzerland” for home delivery, neutral between parties, but more and more they will be in competition with an integrated Amazon-Whole Foods.

On the grocery delivery and/or pickup front, it’s still too fragmented. Most consumers shop at more than one grocery store in a given month. We think there’s an opportunity to establish a digital standard for grocery list communication between apps like ours (i.e., apps which home cooks use to make grocery lists) and grocers that have the end-products to purchase, in much the same way the retail photo finishing industry accepts orders from multiple photo apps.  It has to provide a financial incentive for apps to connect, but it’s completely feasible today; it just needs the will to make it happen. This would make grocery purchase and delivery considerably easier and increase velocity of home delivery and out-of-store selection for pickup.

For our part, BigOven currently has 3.8 million members, many of whom make grocery lists and would love home delivery; it’s a frequent feature request. If you’re in the grocery retail industry or delivery business and you’d like to discuss that with us, reach out.

About BigOven

BigOven is a leading app for the home cook. From great recipe ideas to organization, from planning what to make to grocery shopping, preparation and social sharing, BigOven makes cooking simpler. BigOven has 3.8 million members, 13+ million downloads, 1.6 million recipes and 4,000+ food bloggers with the Save Recipe plugin. Every day we welcome thousands of new members, and we hope you’re one of them. Join us today.

“Missing” Recipes? Make sure you’re signing in with the right account.

BigOven keeps your recipes organized across the web and mobile devices, and lets you sign in and join via Facebook, Google+ or email. Sometimes, when moving to a new device or upgrading their app and signing in, cooks notice a near-empty My Recipes area and write in to say “Help, where are all my recipes?”

The first thing to note is that all your recipes are still there, safe and sound — it’s just that you very likely have inadvertently created more than one membership (by, say, accidentally clicking “Join” instead of “Sign In”), and you’re likely not signed into the “master” account. Very often, this arises because you may have added recipes using one (say, email-based) BigOven membership and then sign into, or inadvertently create, a totally different membership (say, via Facebook, if you’ve used a different email address for that registration.)

Not to worry. Your recipes are still there — you simply need to sign in with the correct account.

Key concept: BigOven places high value on your email address to identify who you are.

How Facebook and Google+ Sign-in Work

When you sign into BigOven with Facebook or with Google+, after you give permission to BigOven and have authenticated with them, at sign-in BigOven is handed the registered email address you have with Facebook or Google+, and next looks for a BigOven membership with that email address.

But a problem can arise if you’ve used a different email address to register with Facebook or Google+ than the one you may have created on BigOven. Thus when you sign in, you may see radically different or fewer recipes in that secondary account.

There’s an easy fix

You simply need to use the same email address on BigOven as you do with the service(s) you sign in with.

  1. From a desktop computer (or a mobile device), you can use the BigOven.com website to locate and verify your “master” account — i.e., the primary one that matters most to you.
    1. Sign into BigOven.com. Check your My Recipes area to verify that this is indeed where your recipes are. (If not, try another login.)
    2. Click on the Account tab to check your account details. This will tell you what email address is registered for the account.
    3. If you don’t remember your password for this email account, you can set or reset one by visiting https://www.bigoven.com/account/forgot. BigOven will email you a reset-your-password link, and you can choose a new password.
  2. Now, sign out of the app in question. (On the new iOS apps, you can see the Sign Out option by clicking the Bell icon and then the gear icon in the upper right.)
  3. Sign into the app using the email/password combination that you’ve verified is the correct one from the web.
  4. If you have more than a couple dozen recipes, give it several minutes to pull down your recipes, grocery list and folders.

Your accounts are now linked and synchronized.

Alternatively, you can change the registered email address of your BigOven.com account to the one that you know is registered for Facebook and Google+. To change your registered email address on BigOven, visit your “Account Settings” area and then the Account tab.

Still having problems? Open a support ticket with as many details as you can provide (usernames, email addresses you might have used) and we’ll be happy to help.

The Best Grocery List for Home Cooks

Still using a paper list at the grocery store? You’re missing out. Go right from recipes to automatically-sorted time-saving lists. Text your list to someone else, or even share your list within your household. Watch this brief demo to see some of the things you can do with BigOven’s easy-to-use grocery list:

Meal Planner will Require BigOven Pro Starting February 15, 2017

Hi cooks,

We’re making an important change to our membership plans. Starting February 15th 2017, BigOven’s Meal Planner will require BigOven Pro membership.

This change only impacts those of you who are free members who use the Meal Planner. Everything else that you enjoy as a free member remains free. That includes finding any recipe, using up ingredients with the Use up Leftovers feature, a grocery list that automatically groups items for you by aisle and syncs with your household.

We’ve found Meal Planner most-used by power users, and BigOven Pro is our power-user offering.  While we all love free apps and features, there are real costs to designing, delivering and operating BigOven. Each month, we spend tens of thousands of dollars on the servers and bandwidth alone, not counting the costs of the design and development team. If you find Meal Planner useful, please support it by joining BigOven Pro!

BigOven Pro removes all advertisement, unlocks features such as custom folders for organization, unlimited recipes, private notes, nutrition calculation and more. BigOven Pro is free to try for 30-days — if you cancel within the first 30 days, there’s no charge. A single BigOven Pro membership removes ads and unlocks Pro features anywhere you sign in, and all your data stays in sync.

We’re continuing to listen to you, our community, in making BigOven the best app for home cooks. Got a suggestion? Drop us a note.

Thanks!

Steve Murch

Founder & CEO, BigOven

 

 

Recipe collectors, save recipes from your favorite websites!

BigOven’s Recipe Clipper is the simplest way to save the recipes you want from all over the web and then use them to make grocery lists, menu plans and more.  Today, we’re pleased to release a handy way to search clipper-compatible sites from our website and within the free BigOven apps.

Easily build your recipe collection by clipping!

Clipping recipes is one of four easy ways to get your recipes into BigOven. Here’s how:

From the BigOven iOS or Android apps

  1. Click your My Recipes area (the cookbook icon)
  2. Click the + in the upper right corner
  3. Choose “Recipe Clipper”
  4. Under “Find a recipe”, type your search term
  5. Tap on the recipe you’d like to save (this will navigate to it in the app’s browser)
  6. Click “Save Recipe” in the lower right

From the BigOven.com website

  1. From the "Add Recipe" page
    From the “Add Recipe” page

    Choose “Add Recipe” from the navigation bar (“…” when signed in)

  2. Choose “Clip it from any recipe site”
  3. Drag the “Save to BigOven” button to your browser’s “favorites” bar if you haven’t done so
  4. Scroll down on the page (www.bigoven.com/clipper) to see the search box
  5. Enter your search term, and visit the page
  6. Click the “Save to BigOven” button on your favorites bar

Recipes you add to BigOven are automatically synchronized for you and available in the iPhone, iPad and Android apps, as well as on the web.

While there are a myriad of other ways to organize your recipes online such as Pinterest and Evernote, only BigOven gives you:

  • a synchronized recipe box that works across iPhone, Android, the web and more,
  • an easy way to add recipes by snapping a photo,
  • an easy way to make recipes into grocery lists,
  • menu plans,
  • recipe resizing
  • nutrition tools
  • …and much more.

Grab BigOven’s Recipe Clipper today, drag and drop it onto your favorites bar, and start clipping!

Comparing Recipe Organization Options

Are you a recipe collector? There are plenty of options for storing recipes you find on the Internet; a frequent question we get here at BigOven is how we compare to all the other ways of storing and finding recipes.

The short answer is that BigOven is a complete recipe, grocery list and menu planning system for home cooks. It doesn’t treat your recipes as a general “document”, it treats it as a structured recipe, with an ingredients section, an instructions section, nutrition information, images and more. BigOven brings your recipes to you — whether it be at the grocery store, kitchen counter, on vacation, or your living room sofa. Companion apps for iPhone, Android device, iPad provide full functionality, as does your web browser. Items added or changed on one device show up on the other devices, reflecting the changes you’ve made. You can easily add or remove recipes from your grocery list. You can resize recipes up or down. You can even invite members of your household to share and edit your grocery list and menu plan.

Alernative Ways to Organize Recipes

The three basic options we’ve seen people use are:

  • Pinning sites (e.g., Pinterest)
  • Document organizers (e.g., Google Docs, OneNote or Evernote)
  • Dedicated recipe apps (e.g., BigOven)

While pinning sites and document managers are usually simple and free, the disadvantage of these approaches is that they don’t really know it’s a recipe. As a result, they don’t let you easily resize it up or down, don’t let you add it to a grocery list (and have items automatically sorted by aisle for you), they don’t let you see nutritional information, they don’t let you convert it to or from metric, don’t consolidate ratings very easily, and many other features.

Option Notes Pros/Cons
Pinning sites: (e.g., Pinterest) See a recipe on the Internet? Pin it for a handy reference. You can search your recipes later. Easy to use Can't create a grocery list Can't create a menu plan Can't resize recipes Can't convert to metric Can't search excluding ingredients Can't calculate nutrition
Notes apps: (e.g., Evernote, OneNote or Google Docs) Easily paste in recipe documents. They're optimized for general document search. They don't know it's a recipe and it isn't structured as such. Easy to paste in images and complete copies of the original recipe. While they have good simple search, you can't do a structured search like "all my recipes that have chicken but don't have mustard in the ingredients list" Generally sync documents across devices Can't create a grocery list Can't create a menu plan Can't resize recipes Can't convert to metric Can't search excluding ingredients Can't calculate nutrition
Dedicated Recipe Organizers (e.g., BigOven) Built for recipes, grocery shopping and menu planning. Sync your grocery list within a household; add recipes to the grocery list or menu plan. It's a free service for up to 50 recipes, but more recipes than that requires BigOven Pro.

What sets BigOven apart is that we make the entire process of searching, making a grocery list, resizing recipes, and planning a menu simple, from start to finish. BigOven is a home cooking app designed by home cooks. We wanted it to be simple to use, and synchronize your recipe box, recipe folders, menu plan, grocery list and more available to you wherever you need it.

 

View all your recipe notes in one place

See all your recipe notes at a glance

Want to jot notes to yourself about a recipe? BigOven Pro members can keep private notes on recipes for tweaks, who you served it to and what they thought, or other general things you might not want to share publicly.

For quite some time, you’ve been able to jot notes on recipes, and they’re right there on the recipe detail screen when needed.

But sometimes, it’s useful to see them all at a glance. You can now view all your notes in one place on BigOven.com, in your “My Recipes” view. Recipe Notes are private, and not shown to anyone else. You can keep your own notes on who-liked-what, or what tweaks you’d like to make, what to serve it with, or maybe which guest(s) you served it to and what they thought of it.

How to add a recipe note

You can add or edit notes on any recipe detail page, via the web or via the BigOven app. Whatever you enter will sync across your devices.

Edit notes on recipes
Edit notes on recipes on web

 

On the recipe detail screen, scroll down and click "Tap to Add a Note"
In the apps, on the recipe detail screen, scroll down and click “Tap to Add a Note”

 

How to view all your recipe notes

If you’d like to view all your recipe notes in one place, head to your “My Recipes” view, and click the (new) Note icon.

 

Click "My Recipes" then the note icon.
Click “My Recipes” then the note icon.

You’ll see them all in a paged list, most recent first.

recipe-notes-view
View all your private recipe notes on one page

BigOven aims to be the best-loved, most-used recipe app for home cooks. We hope this makes it even easier for you to make something great tonight. Haven’t tried BigOven Pro? You can get a free two week trial today!