Amazon announced today it will begin offering exclusive discounts to Prime members who shop at Whole Foods -- a move that's been expected since Amazon acquired the grocer last year for $13.7 billion, and more recently shut down Whole Foods' rewards program and digital coupons. Prime members, starting today, will be able to take 10 percent off Whole Foods' hundreds of sale items, as well as receive other "weekly deep discounts" on best sellers, Amazon says.
The savings are rolling out initially to the Whole Foods stores in Florida, but will expand to all U.S. Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market 365 stores this summer.
Whole Foods currently has over 470 stores in the U.S., Canada and U.K. combined, but the majority - 463 - are in the U.S.
Amazon has made fairly quick work of leveraging its investment in the brick-and-mortar grocery chain. Almost immediately following the acquisition, it began slashing prices in Whole Foods' stores. And it already offered special coupons to Prime members to help them save more at times -- like when it discounted Thanksgiving turkeys, for example.
Today's news is now formalizing those prior efforts with a standard rewards program where Prime members can expect to take 10 percent off sale items on a consistent basis, in addition to other weekly discounts on select items. These will be labeled in store with yellow "10% off" sale signs, and "Prime Member Deal" signs, respectively.
For example, this week (5/16-5/22), Prime members at supported stores will receive the following savings:
It's common for grocery stores to offer weekly savings, but in Whole Foods' case, customers won't have to sign up for a loyalty card or clip coupons from a circular -- they have to join Amazon Prime to enjoy these savings. That could be a lure for Prime members who already shop Whole Foods, but could push price-conscious shoppers further away from the chain, given its existing reputation for high prices.
To take advantage of the new program, Prime members will need the Whole Foods mobile app, where they sign in with their Amazon account and then scan the app's "Prime Code" barcode at checkout to apply the appropriate discounts. Alternately, they can opt in to use their phone number at checkout, if preferred.
Amazon has also set up a dedicated site for more information about the discount program (amazon.com/primesavings).
These in-store savings are not the only way Amazon has been tying Whole Foods to its larger business.
The companies also launched two-hour delivery from Whole Foods via Amazon's Prime Now service in 10 cities across the U.S., with more to come this year, Amazon says. Plus, Amazon Prime members get 5 percent back on Whole Foods purchases with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card, the companies announced earlier this year.
And the stores themselves are serving as the brick-and-mortar presence for Amazon's online store, with things like Amazon Lockers, support for returns, and the ability to shop Amazon hardware, like Echo speakers and Fire TV.
"This new Prime benefit at Whole Foods Market is a perfect pairing of healthy and delicious food at even more affordable prices," said Cem Sibay, vice president, Amazon Prime, in a statement about the discount program's launch. "Our vision is that every day Prime makes your life better, easier and more fun, and shopping at Whole Foods Market with exclusive deals and savings is all of this and more."