Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods isn’t about automating checkout -- it’s about bringing Amazon’s online analytics to the offline world. It’s about gaining insight into customers from their in-store buying habits and blending online and offline in real-time. Amazon purchased Whole Foods to disrupt what we know as retail.
First, it will be about the WiFi. Most of us don’t hop on the Whole Foods WiFi, but my bet is you will have lots of encouragement to do so after Amazon’s acquisition. Amazon filed a patent in 2012 for something called “Physical Store Online Shopping Control” and that patent was awarded last week, just days before Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods. Although the patent permits Amazon to limit searches on competitive websites while in a physical store, it also allows for the capturing of the customer's location and the collection of customer data while inside a store.