The recent news that Amazon is purchasing Whole Foods for just under $14 billion has brought with it nearly 14 billion takes.
For example, it's not about stores it’s about data, Amazon is “not buying a retailer, it’s buying a customer” that will immediately bring its grocery efforts to scale or, from one mind reader, simply (and somewhat condescendingly) “it’s not what you think.” Indeed, one story in The Atlantic suggests it’s about the future of ecommerce, especially rich, urban consumers.
As that last story notes, the deal holds implications for “—as hyperbolic as this might sound—the future of shopping for just about anything.”
And for many retailers, whatever Amazon’s underlying reasoning and overarching strategy, this is the crux of the news. Amazon has pushed the need for true omnichannel experiences forward by years, if not a decade. The king of ecommerce has gone brick and mortar. For the second time in fact, if you count Amazon Books. Retailers that do not yet have both online and physical stores now need to start thinking about it and those that do, need to get serious, incorporating things like order management.
That might seem like a daunting task to overcome, especially for small to medium business (SMB) owners who question how to compete with the big box retailers of today. Yet, in reality, the emergence of modern cloud suites that unify commerce and ERP give SMBs a leg up against the competition. Not held back by significant sunken costs in aging infrastructure or the disruption that comes with replacing it, they can move quickly to the cloud. That lets them scale more quickly and to focus on effectively entering new markets and integrating emerging technologies (like IoT) into their businesses.
While Amazon still stands as a competitor (and for many SMBs, an important partner), my advice to these SMBs is the world is your oyster. You now have the opportunity to become leaders in retail innovation and compete against big box, enterprise-level retailers.