AUSTIN, TX (September 10, 2008) – It’s a common sight at Whole Foods Market stores: Team Members and shoppers in conversation, talking about cooking tips, personal experiences with certain products, special dietary needs or a product’s origin and ingredients. Today, Whole Foods Market extends that interactive relationship online, launching a newly designed Web site that is not only easier to use, but offers new avenues for shoppers to interact transparently with Team Members as they do in the store. “We’ve taken our passion for food and customer service and brought it online,” said Bill Tolany, Global Coordinator of Integrated Media for Whole Foods Market. “Our stores have long been community gathering places, and now we are extending that community even further. We’re most excited about the recipe rating and comments features, the discussion forums, and the Whole Story blog, which we’ve had up since June and is now one of our most popular sections.”

The new home page includes features on vendors, local loan recipients, in-store brochures, top-rated recipes and the latest blog entries. And since every Whole Foods Market is part of its local community, visitors are also able to access their local store’s Web pages to learn about events, store specials, and everything else that makes their store unique.

The Whole Story Blog


Whole Foods Market’s blog, The Whole Story, has become a place where customers come together to learn about and express their points of view on organic and natural food, value tips, and other topics central to the core values of Whole Foods Market. Enhanced by video and audio podcasts, Whole Foods Market experts use the Whole Story to alert customers to topical issues like last summer’s tomato safety concerns, as well as share the inside scoop on new products coming to market and tell the stories of the people who make them. And just like in Whole Foods Market stores, customers make the Whole Story special, contributing their opinions and directly interacting with Whole Foods Market experts.



Enhanced Recipe Functions


Since recipes are already one of the most popular destinations on the site, Whole Foods Market has enhanced its database of more than 1,900 recipes to allow searches by main ingredient, special diets, dish types and other elements like budget and entertaining. In addition to regular recipe features such as detailed preparation instructions and nutritional information, each recipe now provides the opportunity for readers to rate and comment on the recipe. Customers can store their favorite recipes in a personalized “recipe box.” Whole Foods Market recipes come with the benefit of knowing that its stores carry the ingredients listed and that there are numerous options for customers with special dietary needs.



More Interaction


The new site offers several other interactive options, including high quality videos that provide visitors the opportunity to watch cooking demonstrations, meet local producers, and learn about micro-lending recipients of the Whole Planet Foundation. Customers can visit a “store art gallery,” featuring the amazing chalkboard artwork that appears in every Whole Foods Market store. And customers can join the discussion forums, allowing them to share tips with other customers and Team Members on topics like special diets and green living.



Outside the Domain


Whole Foods Market is also using third-party sites such as Facebook and Twitter to further grow the Whole Foods Market community. “We’re really having fun using these social tools to connect our customers to our Team Members and mission,” said Tolany. “Our customers expect a unique experience when they shop at our stores, and we’re working to make their online experience unique as well.”