Whole Foods: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Data

Written by Evan Schuman
October 26th, 2011

Here’s an IT twist: The $9 billion Whole Foods Market grocery chain is pulling back from accepting checks primarily because it wants to collect less customer data. Making this move even more unusual is that checks—along with cash—have a much higher margin than payment cards due to a delicious absence of interchange.

“We simply don’t want the burden of having all that information,” said Whole Foods spokesperson Libba Letton, adding that it’s the same reason the chain has thus far shunned any type of CRM/loyalty program. That said, there are other more mundane reasons for the 300-store 38-state chain’s rejection of checks, added Letton: “It takes too long, and the financial impact of check fraud.” Also, there’s the fact that the number of consumers using checks at grocery stores is plummeting, so why keep associates trained on something that is so rarely used? Still, the idea of a chain choosing to prematurely halt an interchange-free system that brings in lots of customer data, that’s an unusual kettle of organic steamed fish.


One Comment | Read Whole Foods: We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Data

  1. thad peterson Says:

    It might also be a commentary on the true nature of loyalty. They have a fiercely loyal customer base because they offer great stuff supported with terrific service. Customers self select into the store, and come back because it consistently meets or exceeds their expectations. No need to bribe a customer to show up, and you can track skus to see what is and isn’t moving. So who needs CRM?


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