Whole Foods: We Don't Need No Stinkin' Data
Here's an IT twist: The $9 billion Whole Foods Market grocery chain is pulling back from accepting checks primarily because it wants to collect less customer data. Making this move even more unusual is that checks—along with cash—have a much higher margin than payment cards due to a delicious absence of interchange.
"We simply don't want the burden of having all that information," said Whole Foods spokesperson Libba Letton, adding that it's the same reason the chain has thus far shunned any type of CRM/loyalty program. That said, there are other more mundane reasons for the 300-store 38-state chain's rejection of checks, added Letton: "It takes too long, and the financial impact of check fraud." Also, there's the fact that the number of consumers using checks at grocery stores is plummeting, so why keep associates trained on something that is so rarely used? Still, the idea of a chain choosing to prematurely halt an interchange-free system that brings in lots of customer data, that's an unusual kettle of organic steamed fish.