Whole Foods knows that many of its target customers step into stores with one question in mind: “What foods fit into my specific diet?” Online, the Amazon-owned grocer is making that question easier to answer. A new digital product catalog on the brand site fully immerses shoppers in their desired categories, from vegan to paleo. This could be a good way for Whole Foods to increase its site’s value proposition and visit per visitor ratio, which was one of the lowest in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Grocery.
The new filters for dietary restrictions persist throughout user queries, allowing customers to shop without resetting custom filters such as “keto-friendly” and “organic.” Product tiles include photos of the item, price, and availability at the shopper’s local Whole Foods store. Citing a demand for increased transparency, the grocer also redesigned product pages to include a nutrition fact panel, ingredient list, and diet and allergen tags.
Whole Foods previously experimented with sophisticated site features for its 365 by Whole Foods stores, according to Gartner L2’s study. The site has since been dissolved, but Whole Foods has replicated some of the advanced functionalities on its main site. Shoppers can also filter items that are on Sale, Prime Member Deals, and 365 Everyday Value — a clear push for non-members to join Prime and shop Whole Food’s private label brand.
Yet while the revamped search functionality eases product discovery, the tool misses its chance to convert shoppers—either through product links to Amazon Prime Now or Fresh (which sell Whole Foods products) on the category and product pages, or with an “add to shopping list” functionality for shoppers that prefer the in-store experience. Furthermore, Amazon’s grocery e-commerce family (Amazon Fresh, Pantry, and Prime Now) — lack similar grocery product search sophistication, highlighting the disparate site experiences that Amazon users must still navigate.
Regardless, this new digital product catalog makes a mark in the health-conscious grocery space as Whole Foods tries to appeal to a younger audience that favors affordable, easy to find, diet-specific food. The tool is similar to the strategy already employed by pure play membership-based retailer Thrive Market, which also lets shoppers search by “Values & Diets.” While most brick-and-mortar grocers only offer general department information on their site in favor of in-store signage, a few, like Walmart, now provide online tools and an information-rich storefront to ease the purchase process upfront. However, to better convert shoppers online, Whole Foods should consider e-commerce touchpoints that link back to its Amazon family — or at the very least, let shoppers build a digital list that connects to the Whole Foods Market app to bridge the gap between online and in-store.