Why Amazon Really Bought Whole Foods: Alexa, Make Me Dinner!

Why Amazon Really Bought Whole Foods: Alexa, Make Me Dinner!

There’s been a lot of buzz around Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods. The upshot? Most pundits conclude that Amazon wants to enhance its ability to offer groceries online.

That may be true, but we think it’s far from the whole story.

Our view is that Amazon’s purchase is far more disruptive. Amazon’s end game isn’t about empowering consumers to buy groceries online. It’s about meeting customers’ needs for tasty, healthy, home-cooked foods–and owning every step of the supply chain, from human-machine interface through analytics to IoT and robotics, with Whole Foods providing the ingredients.

Here’s what we’re getting at: Today, you might ask Amazon’s Alexa to buy, say, coffee. Based on your purchasing history, Amazon knows which brand and roast of coffee you like, and can deliver your choice on the same day.

Alexa makes dinner (ca. 2024)

Now imagine saying: “Alexa, make me dinner.”

Based on the upload from your Fitbit, Amazon might note that you’ve been weightlifting lately, and some protein is in order.  Based on data from a urinalysis or blood analysis monitor,  it may detect that you’re running short on key minerals, like potassium. And those same data feeds may indicate that you’re overdue for carbohydrate replenishment.

Alexa’s analytics put together a tasty menu of, say, burgers (for the protein), banana fritters (for the potassium) and chocolate pudding (carbs). Amazon checks Whole Foods to make sure the inventory’s available, delivers it to your doorstep–and programs your robotic kitchen to prepare your dinner.

In other words, Whole Foods is the final remaining puzzle piece that meets the challenge of “Alexa, make me dinner!”

Amazon already owns 80% of this supply chain, including the analytics and the ability to integrate streams of data (such as that provided by your Fitbit and urinalysis or blood analysis). The company is investing heavily in IoT-enabled home robotics–it’s not much of a stretch to see the stove and Cuisinart added to the thermostat and home-alarm systems.  And Amazon’s move into drones to enable real-time home delivery is already happening.  The only missing component was, until now, the ingredients. The Whole Foods acquisition addresses that.

So now you know. In about 2024, give or take a year or two, you’ll be saying, “Alexa, make me dinner!”

I hope you like banana fritters!