Amazon promises to fix Whole Foods' crisis of empty shelves

Derek BeereA Whole Foods store in West Hartford, Connecticut
  • Amazon says it will fix Whole Foods’ problems with empty shelves.
  • An Amazon executive blamed the issues on the weather and heightened demand following its acquisition of Whole Foods in August.
  • Whole Foods employees say the problems are the result of a new inventory management system called order-to-shelf that Whole Foods began implementing prior to the Amazon acquisition.

Amazon has pledged to fix Whole Foods’ widespread problems with food shortages and empty shelves.

“Where there’s issues, they will be corrected,” Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said on an earnings call last week in response to a question about out-of-stock problems reported by Business Insider.

“Where there’s areas we can improve our selection and delivery for customers, we’ll do so,” he added.

Olsavsky shifted blame for the issues away from Amazon, saying “we’ve made no changes post acquisition that would have impacted anything related to in-stock, except perhaps the fact that the price decreases have brought up demand and there’s an amount of rebalancing related to that.”

Whole FoodsBusiness InsiderA Whole Foods store in Miami, Florida.

He also said that the out-of-stock problems could be due to the weather, or as he put it, “selective weather-related restocking issues.”

In interviews with Business Insider, more than two dozen Whole Foods employees from every corner of the US have said that the problems are instead related to an inventory management system called order-to-shelf, which Whole Foods rolled out across its stores over the course of many months last year.

The system is meant to help Whole Foods cut costs, better manage inventory, reduce waste, and clear out storage.

But its strict procedures are leading to storewide stocking issues, employees say.

Whole FoodsBusiness InsiderA Whole Foods store in Miami, Florida.

Unfortunately for Amazon, the timing of the order-to-shelf rollout coincided with its purchase of the grocery chain in August.

As a result, many customers are blaming Amazon for the out-of-stock problems in posts to social media and in interviews with Business Insider.

Whole Foods employees, meanwhile, are hoping that Amazon saves them from a system that they say is broken.

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