Whole Foods Market to Launch E-Commerce Subsidiary

Whole Foods Market has established an electronic commerce
subsidiary in an effort to create a comprehensive natural foods site on the
Internet.

WholeFoods.com will offer an
information-
rich Web site designed to replicate the unique Whole Foods Market shopping
experience, the company said.

The site will offer the trademark Whole Foods
Market product mix, with approximately 6,000 items available on its launch,
and nearly 10,000 products offered soon thereafter. WholeFoods.com will
ultimately feature more than 20,000 pages of content related to natural foods.

WholeFoods.com will initially offer non-perishable items shipped to all 50
states from a central distribution center. Perishable offerings will be
gradually introduced once demand and profitability can be established, the
company said.

According to WholeFoods.com President Carl Morris, the company will benefit
from a number of built-in advantages over other online grocers.

“Our legion of loyal customers shop Whole Foods Market because we offer a
unique product mix. . .About 1.5 million customers visit Whole Foods Market
stores each week, and
their demographic profiles closely match those of today’s Internet shoppers,”
he said.

Spurning the banner ads, the company said WholeFoods.com will implement a
promotion, incentive and awareness campaign in all 88 Whole Foods Market
locations nationwide.

The company plans for an employee incentive program, called the Team Member
Incentive Program (TIP), that rewards Whole Foods Market’s more than 14,000
employees for sending customers to WholeFoods.com.

“Our TIP program is a cornerstone of our marketing initiative,” said John
Fischer, WholeFoods.com’s director of marketing. “By giving our Team Members
the incentive and means to send customers to the site, we’re making the case
that strong, traditional retail companies have certain advantages over
Internet-only e-commerce groups, including the costs of customer acquisition.”

An initial version of WholeFoods.com is scheduled to launch on March 22.
In-store
promotion of the site will begin April 12.

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