Sometimes I think Amazon.com
Vine is an offshoot of Quidsi, which Amazon purchased in 2010. The stated goal of the site is to be "an online shopping destination for natural, organic, and sustainably made products." That means everything from snacks to backpacks, making the site resemble a filtered-down version of Amazon. In addition to carrying such a broad range, Vine claims to do all the research and dirty work for customers, checking each product it carries against a set of criteria. This means customers should be able to shop without having to worry whether the products' claims to sustainability are genuine.
The model is similar to the one originally adopted by Whole Foods
Not the only games in town
Whole Foods investors don't need to get worried yet, though. This isn't the first time Whole Foods has faced competition for its core customer group, and it won't be the last. The Fresh Market
Whole Foods has also fended off Wal-Mart
Given Whole Foods' strong track record in dealing with the competition, I'm not too worried about Vine. Though I will be keeping an eye on non-grocery sales, to see if they start to slip. It seems unlikely that people will switch to ordering all their fresh food online -- though in Europe, this is trending -- but soaps, paper goods, and other non-perishable items could be an easy target. Whole Foods hasn't broken these categories out, historically, but a push from Amazon could put a squeeze on those "easy to order online" sorts of goods.
For now, I'm staying out of the whole fray. Both Amazon and Whole Foods are trading at pricey multiples, with a lot of things changing quickly for both companies. Whole Foods is going to see The Fresh Market in California for the first time, and Amazon is now dealing with the new video offering from Barnes & Noble that could hurt that revenue stream.
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