Technology and Traditional Business – A Match Made in Heaven?

Like many of you, I was astonished to hear the news of Amazon’s possible acquisition of Whole Foods. Merging organizations with such vastly different operating models and mechanisms for connecting with their current and prospective clients will take skill, patience, persistence, understanding, fortitude, persistence, and humility.While there are incredible strengths inherent in each of these organizations, what sets them apart in their unique marketplaces are differences of monumental importance to their individual and combined stakeholders. Vendors, suppliers, customers, and employees each connect with these organizations for different reasons.So, I am intrigued at the prospect of these two organizations coming together. Enough so that my routine good day/good night call home last night, which lasted a total of ten minutes, consisted of five full minutes on the topic of these two companies coming together.

Amazon—oh, the convenience!

Let me start by saying that I am an ardent fan and consumer of both organizations, however, my fandom is unique for each company. I live in a reasonably rural area, with few big-box retail locations, which is quite the change after having spent decades living within three miles of virtually every imaginable convenience.Now, bulk purchasing options are few and far between, and if I forget to pick up the 10lb box of dog biscuits for the pups, the choice is an hour-and-a-half round-trip or making-do with crackers and a ‘dropped’ piece of steak at dinner until the next available errand day.A friend recommended Amazon Prime and most of that problem has been solved. I can purchase many of our basic staples, in bulk, and have them shipped to the front door in one or two days, all through my handy smartphone app. Ah, the luxuries of technology!

Whole Foods—an “in-store” experience

For many reasons, I also love Whole Foods. I have been a huge supporter of the store for the quality of their products, their organic and wholesome food, the interesting options they have available to choose from, and their tremendous service.As a matter of fact, I often seek out a Whole Foods location when I travel. I can peruse a plethora of different prepared foods, select things that I like in small quantities, and take them back to my hotel room. For me, it’s a healthier option and is much less expensive than eating in a restaurant (I’m also not a huge fan of eating out by myself, so it offers me a perfect alternative).The store staff is always pleasant, knowledgeable, and interesting to talk with. All qualities I hold dear, having spent the greater part of my career working in retail.While I appreciate the convenience that Amazon offers, I also love the traditional characteristics of Whole Foods. Everything is fresh, staff are friendly and more than willing to strike up a conversation, and I can physically see, touch, and smell the items before I buy them. Both companies offer options that enhance my life...but in different ways.

Amazon and Whole Foods—a yin and yang?

I came across a nicely crafted article discussing the curiosities of combining these two organizations from the perspective of a traditional seller responding to the technological implications of being acquired by an online retailer.The article talks about the potential deal’s possible economic impacts, particularly if other similar companies decide to follow suit. Unexpected mergers between tech companies and traditional organizations could substantially expand our world and offer incredible evolution in the way businesses have traditionally been run. Not to mention the enhancements to the product offerings—this particular article shares hypothetical combinations such as Apple and Tesla, or Google and Salesforce, to name a few. Can you imagine? This could mean truly exciting times, should this new trend gain traction.I would be remiss if I didn’t raise a caution flag. My mind immediately jumped to thoughts surrounding the challenging road ahead for both Amazon and Whole Foods (it is, after all, a huge part of work that I do on a daily-basis!).Capitalizing on the unique market value and corporate cultures, which set these organizations apart from their peers, and combining them in a way which maximizes opportunity for all stakeholders will be a daunting task. Especially in a world where even seemingly no-brainer M&A activity fails to meet its stated objectives 70-90% of the time.We wish both organizations, and all who hold them in esteem, the very best. I know that I am looking forward to what the future holds for each group, both alone and as a collective whole. Perhaps, they will strike the delicate balance of carrying out a successful M&A, and we, as loyal consumers, will be privy to a new and even stronger combined version of the two entities. Only time will tell, but I am hopeful!Is your organization undergoing an M&A? Not sure where to start? Let us help you become one of the success stories.

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