Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

It used to be such a calm, happy place.

You could wander around a Whole Foods for hours and simply marvel at what was on offer.

Now, though, things appear to have changed. 

Some Whole Foods stores have become a wasteland.

No, it's not that customers aren't still flocking to buy their organic products. It's that there aren't so many organic products on the shelves. 

Instead, those shelves are empty.

A Business Insider investigation suggests that stores all over the country are being affected by a lack of produce.

Could it be that, in fact, since Amazon bought the chain there's been a spike in customer traffic?

Perhaps. But what some Whole Foods insiders are blaming is, oh, technology.

Whole Foods has a new buying system called Order to Shelf. 

The idea is to create greater efficiency, so that produce isn't kept in stock rooms and freezers.

An Illinois Whole Foods manager told Business Insider: "At my store, we are constantly running out of products in every department, including mine. Regional and upper store management know about this. We all know we are losing sales and pissing off customers. It's not that we don't care. We do. But our hands are tied."

There's little worse that having tied hands when you're trying to fill shelves. 

It sounds as if this is a classic use of technology to create efficiency. Yet human beings aren't (yet) machines.

They behave in sporadic, irrational, quite potty ways at times.

Suddenly, there will be a communal craving for organic iceberg lettuce from Finland for no good reason whatsoever.

The technology isn't ready for that and the consequence is a denuded produce department. 

Whole aisles are now Whole Foods deserts.

I contacted Whole Foods to ask whether it's aware of the disgruntlement in its ranks.

I will update, should a response reach my shelves. 

It's natural, of course, that some customers believe that Amazon is to blame for the problem.

Few companies are more in love with data. And, once Amazon bought Whole Foods last year, many feared that the store would be filled with ugly electronics.

Which, indeed, came to pass.

Now, though, it could be that technology is at the heart of even more human angst.

One Whole Foods employee described the new ordering system as "militaristic."

Well, that's something those desperate to get Amazon's HQ2 in their city can look forward to.

Published on: Jan 18, 2018