Amazon is putting its $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition to work in time for holiday shopping. The companies announced today that over 100 Whole Foods locations are now carrying Amazon devices, including the new Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV, Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets, and more at various stores around the U.S. In addition, a number of Amazon Pop-Up stores will launch at select Whole Foods locations ahead of the busy shopping season.
The Pop-Ups will begin opening their doors next week, starting with Whole Foods Market stores in Chicago, Illinois and Rochester Hills, Michigan on November 13, followed by Davie, Florida and Pasadena, California on November 14. Then the new Union Station store in Denver will add a Pop-Up on November 15.
These Pop-Ups will do more than sell devices, like the other stores. Instead, customers shopping the Amazon-staffed Pop-Up stores will be able to try out devices ahead of purchase, as well as learn more about various Amazon services, like Amazon’s Prime membership program, and its accompanying Prime Video streaming service.
The Echo devices themselves are getting holiday-ready as well, and will be able to respond to new commands like “Alexa, add Whole Foods Market chocolate truffles to my Thanksgiving list.”
This is not the first time Amazon has leveraged its Whole Foods footprint following the acquisition. Almost immediately after the deal closed in August, Amazon Echo displays began appearing at strategic Whole Foods locations around the U.S. They sometimes even sported tongue-in-cheek signs that called the devices “farm fresh” and “pick of the season” – a nod to Whole Foods’ focus on healthy, fresh food.
The new store launches will also arrive just ahead of Amazon’s big Black Friday sales season, which will include discounts on its own consumer electronics, like $20 off the Echo Dot, $20 off the all-new Amazon Echo, $30 off the new Echo Plus, $30 off Kindle Paperwhite, $20 off the new Amazon Cloud Cam, $20 off Fire 7 tablet, and $30 off Fire HD 8 tablet.
Selling Echo speakers and tablets alongside groceries is a bit of an odd mix, given that Whole Foods is not a big box retailer like Target or Walmart. Its product lineup beyond grocery items has been fairly limited, to date.
But Amazon’s bet on Whole Foods was not just to gain physical locations closer to customers’ homes to power services like grocery delivery and Prime Now expansions, or to offer faster delivery times. It was also to leverage the larger power that comes with brick-and-mortar retail, the way Walmart does today. That includes making Whole Foods a destination for Amazon customers and Prime members by offering things like combined loyalty programs and Amazon Lockers for easier order pick-ups and returns, for example.
With the addition of the Amazon devices and Pop-Ups, Amazon is clearly hoping to make Whole Foods a holiday shopping destination, too.