Published on: August 31, 2017
By: Lisa Lanier

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The adage is “Disrupt your own business before someone else does it for you.”  And boy is Amazon doing it yet again…now in grocery.

There has not been significant disruption in the supermarket arena in quite a while, and the question now is one of “Just how much will it change?”. Amazon has been in the grocery space for nearly a decade (a surprise to many), but has now clearly turned its focus in that direction and will absolutely increase the overall pace of innovation in this space.

Much of the recent press has been focused on how Amazon is cutting prices at Whole Foods, but that’s only a starting salvo.  Amazon is known for knocking down barriers as it enters various markets, and price was just the first barrier to getting consumers in the door in higher numbers.  Amazon hasn’t yet established its position in the $800 billion dollar plus grocery market, so the question is “what will it be?”.  With consumer preferences shifting to more fresh, more organic, more “I’m involved” food preparation and eating, it was crucial that Amazon found a way to play in the fresh food arena in a bigger way with broader reach, and Whole Foods met all of those needs.

Going beyond the obvious of a new  “bricks and mortar” presence with a technology twist, Amazon will bring more change to how we put food on our table.  Whether it’s meeting the Millennial need for “right now” delivery, evolving technology for online ordering, changing our thinking about how what we need is replenished, or strengthening the connection to the consumer heart, the only sure thing is that it will be different.

And to compete with a business like Amazon, that has no sacred cows, you have to be willing to slay yours as well. That means making decisions for your business that are omnichannel and omni-media and doing it as if your business depends on it (which it just might).

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Continuing to be successful in this evolving, highly competitive, lean-margin business requires that you have an external view and are constantly monitoring competitors, but moreso that you are taking an internal look at how well you are making decisions and how quickly you are responding to the marketplace.  The idea of operating a “boundaryless organization”, that has little regard for siloes and drives collaboration and fresh thinking, becomes even more important. Bringing together teams who use different types of data, have various problem solving abilities and work in an environment where decision making is more nimble, can make all the difference.

But it’s not easy.  Working this way requires the courage to drive change and transformation, and to do it when you are ahead of significant change, rather than when you are reacting to it.  This means constantly looking for new information to combine with the information you have, and bringing together teams and points of view  to look through the lens of “what’s changed?”  Most importantly, it means giving teams the ability to figure out what can be done better.  And then making the decision to just do it (a decision Amazon has always made, and will continue to make in the future).

Lisa Lanier is the Chief Client Officer at Market Track, a leading provider of marketing and business intelligence. She can be reached at