Whole Foods co-CEO on grocery's 'tectonic shift'

Grocery retailing has been going through seismic changes. Whole Foods (NASDAQ:WFM) has been at the center of these changes, struggling to compete with more mainstream grocers and a changing shopper.

The grocery industry is going through a "tectonic shift," as a new generation seeks more transparency and sustainability, Co-CEO Walter Robb said at Fortune's Brainstorm E, an energy and environment conference in Austin, Texas.

"This thing is continuing to move, and you better get on board with it or you're going to get left behind," Robb said.

The retailer is cutting 1,500 positions, or 1.6 percent of its workforce, in an effort to be more competitive and reduce costs.

While the chain is still opening stores at the rate of 40 new units a year, the company needs to more strategically invest in technology and marketing, and lower prices. Whereas Whole Foods was once one of the only retailers to offer natural and organic items, it now competes with just about every banner, including traditional grocery stores and discount supercenters.

Whole Foods is investing in three major technology platforms, according to CIO, Jason Buechel. One platform benefits employees with functions such as better labor scheduling. The second includes a new loyalty program and ways to offer better transparency into the grocer's products. The final platform will revolutionize Whole Foods's supply chain, according to Buechel.

The chain has been developing new concepts to cater to both younger and lower-income shoppers. It will unveil its newest concept, 365 by Whole Foods Market, in Los Angeles next year. That location will be designed to better meet the needs of younger shoppers with lower pricing on natural and organic products, complete with a more streamlined, technology-driven look.

For more:
-See this Fortune article

Related stories:
Big layoffs imminent at Whole Foods, Walmart, Sam's Club
Whole Foods to open first 365 store in LA
Whole Foods unveils '365' format
Whole Foods expands My Street Grocery
Whole Foods to open 40 new stores

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