Something may seem different about your local Whole Foods. In fact, many shoppers are reporting that their favorite Amazon-owned grocery store keeps running out of foodstuffs. It is true that Whole Foods stores have been facing some surprise shortages, but it actually doesn't have much to do with the company's new owners.
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Business Insider reported last week that customers at Whole Foods are finding entire shelves and aisles devoid of product, and they're getting mad about it. The produce that remains is unappealing, the company's 365 brand sells out quickly, and employees can't seem to fix anything fast enough. Talk to Whole Foods employees and they'll agree; the culprit, according to those on the inside, is a new buying system mandated by corporate HQ.
It's called order-to-shelf, and it's supposed to cut down on waste. The idea is that if you keep less in the stock rooms behind the main shopping floor, the less likely you'll order more than you can sell. Unfortunately, it also relies on a number of outside factors all working smoothly, like quick-turnaround deliveries and perfectionist employees. Order-to-shelf does sound like a plan right out of the efficiency-obsessed, low-margin Amazon playbook, but Whole Foods employees say this system was implemented long before the August 2017 sale.
Whole Foods and its employees both say the system has cut down on waste. However, the unhappy customers and overburdened employees are wreaking havoc on staff morale. It's understandably frustrating to make a trip to the grocery store only to find half your shopping list out of stock. Try not to take it out on the workers, though — they're juggling this issue every day.