Whole Foods rolls out home delivery and customer loyalty program

Whole Foods (NYSE:WFM) announced the rollout of a home delivery and customer loyalty program.

The retailer will partner with third parties to launch home delivery in 12 to 15 major markets, with plans for a wider rollout over time. Although the cities that will recieve home delivery services in the initiative were not disclosed, Whole Foods already offers the service in select markets, reported the Associated Press.

In the coming weeks, Whole Foods will also test a new loyalty program, with plans for a wide rollout slated for completion in time for the winter holidays.

The announcement comes at the heels of slow quarterly sales growth, which has investors worried that the company is losing ground in a once dominated segment. Sales in established locations rose 3.9 percent in the second quarter, a number that climbed 7.5 percent in the same quarter last year.

The rollout of home delivery services is part of a national marketing makeover intended to fend off other competitors in the natural and organic food categories. Beyond specialty stores, Whole Foods now has traditional retailers like Walmart, Kroger and even drugstores—such as those that offer the Fit Choices CVS snack line—to compete with as many retailers look to offer healthier options.

This past spring, Whole Foods announced the lowering of product prices and a focus on digital innovation as a way to stay ahead of growing competition.

"We believe there are real and substantive differences in the company and in the values and the foods that we sell," said Walter Robb, co-CEO of Whole Foods, during a conference call with investors.

Forecasting ahead, Whole Foods expects sales at established locations to rise 4.1 to 4.4 percent for the year, down from its previous prediction of 5 to 5.5 percent.

For more:
-See this Associated Press article

Related stories:
Whole Foods looks to streamline business processes, increase efficiency
What the Square-Whole Foods deal really means
Whole Foods confirms plan to buy 7 former Dominick's stores in Chicago
Whole Foods commits $25 million to local businesses, opens wellness center in Detroit
Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Walgreens recall 90 tons of food linked to E. Coli