The Amazon Acquisition Could Be Bad News For Whole Foods Employees

Update: June 20, 2017: A spokesperson for Amazon has released the following statement to Refinery29: "Amazon has no plans to use the technology it developed for Amazon Go to automate the jobs of cashiers at Whole Foods. No job reductions are planned as a result of the deal."
Original story follows.
Last week, our worlds were rocked when it was announced that Amazon had acquired Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. An online retailer acquiring a brick and mortar chain is major news that left many of us wondering what the future of grocery shopping holds.
For Whole Foods employees, the acquisition could have major ramifications. Over the weekend, insider sources told Bloomberg that Amazon plans to "reduce headcount and change inventory to lower prices" so the chain can better compete with the large number of bargain grocery stores in America.
Part of this plan involves automating the stores, which includes “using technology to eliminate cashiers.” Although Amazon has denied that Whole Foods job cuts are on the horizon, the company is known for its ability to use technology in order to save money.
Furthermore, Bloomberg's source provided very specific details regarding Amazon's plans to reduce employees in favor of technology:
"Amazon is considering extending the cost-cutting effort with the no-checkout technology it’s developing at its Seattle convenience store, 'AmazonGo,' according to the person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the plans are private," Bloomberg's report reads. "The technology lets people pay with smartphones without seeing a cashier or going to a checkout kiosk, which would help Amazon differentiate itself in the brick-and-mortar setting and reduce labor costs at Whole Foods stores. The employees remaining would help improve the shopping experience."
However, the changes could be a long way off. AmazonGo has run into issues: Specifically, there have been technical difficulties at the cashier-less stores when more than 20 people try to shop at once. Although the company's tech team is undoubtedly working on this kink, it could pose an even bigger problem at a busy chain like Whole Foods.

More from Work & Money


R29 Original Series