The worldwide e-commerce battle between Amazon and Alibaba takes place on a variety of different fronts, with one area still in the formative stages. That’s focused on essentially becoming the grocery store of the future, with Alibaba currently leading this sector. Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods, however, might end up using some of the tricks that its main rival has at its disposal.
The Chinese version of Whole Foods is Henna, which currently has 13 physical stores across that vast country. The store’s app allows customers that are located within three miles of a store to order items and have them delivered within a 30-minute time span.
Alibaba’s own mobile technology for non-cash payments, AliPay, is used for those who actually visit the stores. In this instance, simply scanning the bar code allows for payment and also provides the customer with information on the product itself. In addition, information on similar items is presented.
As with any hi-tech aspect of a business, the information acquired through the swipes of those bar codes gives Alibaba a torrent of information on individual purchases. The amount of data acquired allows each store to shape its offerings and fully exploit the popularity of time-sensitive items like fresh food.
Besides AliPay, Alibaba also has a membership component known as Taobao attached to shopping at the Henna stores. That might serve as a prototype for Amazon, which has its popular Prime membership for both physical items and things like original movies and television shows.
Amazon’s ability to deliver food from its own service and Whole Foods will undoubtedly grow, with a subsequent tie-in with its Prime membership providing enticing discounts for members. Saving money, especially with Whole Food’s reputation as an expensive place to shop, could fuel even more members to sign up for Prime.