How Whole Foods is Boosting Loyalty with Streamlined POS

Even though Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFM) is notoriously secretive about its retail strategies, it recently let the cat out of the bag on its new point-of-sale (POS) platform. With its move to a unified POS for its brick-and-mortar sales and e-commerce operation, WFM stands to benefit from greater customer transparency and improved customer relationship management (CRM). With 365 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., we are surprised that the mega-natural foods retailer has not streamlined its POS systems earlier. However, WFM is now in the midst of a Retalix POS installation, which could take around two years to deploy. "This platform gets us in a position to have a 360-degree view of our customer," WFM co-CEO Walter Robb said on a recent earnings call with analysts, RIS News reported. "I think the future of retail is giving the customer an integrated, seamless experience against your standards of customer experience." Streamlining all of its platforms is meant to boost loyalty among WFM’s shoppers, which are already a staunchly devoted bunch. "Loyalty with customers comes first and foremost from their alignment with the brand or company and what the company stands for. That is an aspirational sort of loyalty that I think works in [our] favor,” Robb said on the call. However, the CRM data captured in WFM’s new system must be property utilized in order to boost loyalty. Collecting troves of data on shoppers must benefit customers and their shopping experience, according to Robb. To that end, WFM’s new POS system will be used in part to create a personalized experience for each shopper. Robb acknowledges that the retailer may be behind the eight-ball in streamlining POS systems, describing its efforts as the "first step" in uniting its e-commerce, brick-and-mortar, social media, and mobile platforms. Still, WFM smartly plans to tie its newer "click and collect" pilot program in select stores – allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up products in-store – into the program. The progressive retailer is also testing same-day delivery service with Google in the San Francisco Bay area, and results of that test will also give WFM insight on customer shopping preferences.