• Parking Lot
• Overall Decor
• Entrance – including Floral and Teabot
Produce, Prepared Foods, Meat, Seafood
Grocery, Frozen, Alcohol, Bakery
• Coffee Bar – including Juicero
• Restaurant - Chloe
• Fun Tidbits
365 by Whole Foods
Whole Foods opened 365 about six weeks ago. When it opened, experts and
curious customers galore shared their opinions. I thought it would be compelling
to see any adjustments and how customers are settling into shopping.
Overall, I found 365 to be a reasonably well-executed formula. While we can
certainly expect Whole Foods to make many more adjustments in future
locations, as it currently exists, the store is already compelling. One could easily
see how this formula that one could easily see being successfully expanded to
other markets across the country.
This is definitely a ‘Fresh’ store, with attention to detail that impacts the shopping
In typical Whole Foods fashion, the parking lot is a struggle. Customer reviews
and industry pundits alike have referenced this in various reports. I spent several
hours, mid-day and while there were no parking attendants and the store was
busy, we did find a place to park.
6 Weeks Post Opening Grand Opening Party Before It Was 365
• As you’ve heard, the décor is minimal and scaled down from a typical WF. The
formula certainly gave the effect of a pared down effort but the result is a
comfortable shopping experience without distracting and unnecessary frills.
• The store has an exposed wood ceiling, concrete floors, pallet stacks, and an
element of simplicity that I personally found appealing.
Entrance – TeaBOT
Located directly inside the front door is the
TeaBOT. This techie/foodie concept allows you to
select your loose tea flavors (along with
concentration and temperatures).
Follow the easy prompts, pay at the station itself,
and you have a very high quality cup of tea that
fits nicely in the cart cupholders.
Entrance – TeaBOT
TeaBOT menu screens and the filtered lid which allows you to have an ‘instant’
loose leaf tea without drinking the leaves.
Entrance – Order Kiosk
Next to the TeaBOT, on the right as you enter the store are order kiosks for ‘Fast Not Fake’ made-
to-order food. Three kiosks are located here and one in the back of the store, where you pick the
food up. Unfortunately, we were not able to actually order from these as the system wasn’t fully
functional. We had to manually place the order, but the screens are well designed and we
ordered a number of dishes directly from the associates.
Entrance – Floral
While there were many things I found interesting and innovative about 365, Floral
was not one of them. A row of flowers against the front window is the entirety of the
department, easily missed. In comparison to Trader Joe’s (who does a great job of
varied offerings, attractive displays, and low prices), it was underwhelming.
• This store is focused on fresh, as is evidenced by the
large square footage and wide selection.
• The main area is supplemented by a colder produce
room, and doesn’t appear to impede the flow of shop.
• It’s also focused on the customer experience.
Pricing mostly by ‘each’ instead of by ‘pound’ is a
much easier means for the customer to ID cost.
• Much of the produce is displayed on pallet-type
displays that do an effective job at conveying a
value price message
• Organic produce is merchandised with regular produce, giving the consumer a clear
• It’s also very attractively priced. We compared prices on 8 different produce items
(regular and organic) versus Ralph’s and Smart & Final. 365 was in line with both
retailers, and even less expensive in a couple of cases.
Attention to detail is clear throughout the store, even the produce weigh stations
had an element of cool.
Prepared Foods – Order Kiosk Window
• As you transition from produce
to prepared foods, along the
back wall is an area to pick up
your made-to-order food.
• Employees were a bit
confused due to ordering
kiosks being down, but
otherwise it was a good
• Screen at top shows when
your order is ready
Prepared Foods – Order Kiosk Window
With two of us on the trip, we tasted about 18 dishes in total. Hands down, the
best thing we ate (outside of the Chloe restaurant) were the gourmet hotdogs.
Prepared Foods – Hot Foods Bar, Salad Bar
As expected, there was a rich diversity of hot foods (many international dishes)
and cold foods on the salad bar. One of the challenges at Whole Foods has
always been the food doesn’t palatably eat as well as it looks. During this visit,
we sampled many of the dishes and the quality was better than expected, with
Tikka Chicken being the best.
Prepared Foods – Hot Bar Packaging
Hot bar packaging was created with the customer in mind
as well. Being flat priced by the package size rather than
by weight makes it easier for the customer to know how
much they are spending, key to millennials.
Prepared Foods – Pizza
In preparation of my visit, I read over 250 customer reviews online. One of the
repeated complaints, and an issue I observed, is that the pizza does not stay hot
enough. It was decidedly our least favorite dish. We also struggled with the
packaging (as did others I witnessed).
Prepared Foods – What’s for dinner?
Thinking about issues customers have to deal with daily, “What’s for dinner?” is
top of mind. 365 created cases of prepared ‘ingredients’ that would make it easy
to put together a meal with limited prep and effort. These ranged from produce to
protein to grains, were all reasonably priced and very fresh.
Prepared Foods – Grab and Go Cases
A long row of grab and go prepared items, ranging from curry salad,
sandwiches, sushi, and much more was heavily shopped by customers. As
with the hot bar and made-to-order foods, the quality and taste were better
Much like grocery, there was a reasonable breadth of frozen categories, just not
a depth of variety. In reading many online shopper reviews, the sliding doors for
the frozen cases are a problem during heavily shopped hours as they impede
adjacent customers when you open them.
Grocery – Depth & Breadth
While this is definitely a Fresh store, there was a reasonable breadth of grocery
categories, though the selection wasn’t deep, akin to what you’d find in Trader
Joe’s. Missing were the health and beauty organic products that we are
accustomed to seeing at Whole Foods.
Grocery - Specials
Examples of ‘Flash Finds’ – unique and reasonably
priced items found in the grocery section
Grocery – Enough to Be Primary Shop?
Yes, for customers who are happy with lots of fresh
product and one or two items of choice in grocery.
Additionally, there is a large assortment of bulk items
and I observed a substantial number of shoppers who
Meat & Seafood - Packaging
The #1 thing I noticed about Meat and Seafood was the packaging. I’ve never
seen anything quite like it. Vacuum packed and beautifully done. The product
looks fresh and appealing, and this packaging shows it off better than methods
I’ve seen employed anywhere else.
Meat, Seafood – Depth and Price
While the depth of product isn’t as much as you’d find at a normal Whole Foods,
there is certainly enough here to be your primary store.
Additionally, the prices were very reasonable. Here, salmon was on sale for
365 has a good
assortment of beer
and wine, both in
terms of home
stocking and drink in
In two location they had kiosks to
help you with your selections.
It was difficult to figure out how to
use – a wine merchant and I spent
5 minutes figuring out how to scan a
bottle. Once we got our bottle to
scan, the information was
compelling and would help in
Tucked into the front right corner is a row of bread and a small case of cookies
and pastries. The cookies we sampled were dry and gave the impression the
product had not turned enough to keep it fresh. The category as a whole feels
like not enough selection has been included.
The checkout lanes are fed by one long line
(NY style). I timed waits on 6 different
occasions between 11:30am and 1pm and
they averaged 3 minutes.
Customers in line grumbled a bit, but I
heard people remark that it was moving
All in all, the checkout process was smooth,
with the cashier even not charging us full
price for half empty flat fee prepared foods
containers. She cheerfully told us she’s
only charge half and we’d know for next
time to fill them on up!
Checkout - Express
There are a couple of express lanes
for 5 items or less, which were
manned. These lanes were not
being heavily used as most people
had more than 5 items.
Allegro Coffee Bar
In the right front corner is the Allegro Coffee Bar,
adjacent to the in store seating. Key offerings include
cortados, standard coffees, teas, and Juicero.
Coffee Bar – Juicero
As part of the Allegro Coffee Bar is a
station called Juicero. Using the
packets found in the bottom of the
cabinet pictured, you can juice the
product to obtain a ‘fresh’ glass of
During our visit, Juicero was not
functional, but the Allegro associates
told us they often sample and it is
Out of Stocks
For the most part, the store was in good condition.
There were several holes, but not many. However,
it does appear that their electronic signage attempts
to account for OOS’s. Some of their prices actually
said ‘OOS’ instead of the price. In most of these
cases, there were still a few items left on the shelf
(as in the mango example in this picture). Clearly
their inventory systems are not completely honed
and there are still challenges to resolve here.
Restaurant - Chloe
Celebrity chef Chloe has a vegan restaurant in the front, left
corner. During lunch it was completely packed. The offerings
were interesting (ex. fresh coconut water). Of the four things we
sampled here, all were surprisingly good (especially when
considering we both are meat lovers) with the vegan BBQ being
Loyalty – My 365, Online
365 has its own loyalty program called My 365. You register online and get a
variety of benefits such as: dollars off your total order with threshold, discounts
on products, and e-punch cards (ex. Buy 8 get next 2 free) for various things like
berries, salad greens, rotisserie, and more.
Loyalty – My 365, Online
Examples of value provided through My
365. To register for these, you must
‘activate’ them online and then use your
phone number at register in store.
Loyalty – My 365, In Store
It wasn’t overwhelming, but the signage in store
for participating in their new loyalty program, My
365 was present. During my checkout, I used
my phone number to get the discounts I
registered for and the process was seemless.
Fun Tidbits – Amusing Verbiage
Throughout the store are funny and amusing
verbiage in their customer communication.
This one says ‘chug’ before you head outside to dine
Fun Tidbits – Packaging & Clean Foods
As expected with Whole Foods:
• The 365 packaging comes across as environmentally friendly
• Foods are signed as antibiotic – hormone free
• A full recycling program is in place in the eating areas
Fun Tidbits – Depth of Selection
While some grocery categories had little depth, other categories (like iced coffee)
had many choices.
Fun Tidbits – Depth of Selection
Still thinking about their customer, here they are offering free coffee to DD’s.
Fun Tidbits – Puppy Prepared
I saw several dogs in store,
shopping with their humans and
given that so many people were
eating on location, 365 is
prepared with water bowls for
these special companions.
Conclusion - Editorial
This was the first time I’ve ever shopped a Whole Foods store and I didn’t feel
like I left a big chunk of my wallet behind. Paired with good service, reasonable
assortment, interesting tech, food that actually tastes good, and thoughtful
touches overall, I believe this is a format that could easily be exported to other
Ultimately, while it is particularly appealing to millennials, I believe it can
effectively speak to multiple generations of varied geographies as well.
Will it solve all of Whole Foods challenges? No, but smart grocery retailers
across the US should prepare for this new formula.
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