Expert: Amazon-Whole Foods deal to deliver ‘substantial’ changes

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Amazon’s proposed purchase of Whole Foods Market won’t affect consumers much for now, one expert tells Consumers Digest. Eventually, however, developments will be “substantial.”

The online retailing behemoth offered to buy the grocery-store chain for $13.7 billion, and Mark Hamrick of Bankrate.com sees no reason why the acquisition, which is expected to be completed in the second half of 2017, won’t go through. Amazon and Whole Foods say Whole Foods will continue to operate as before under the same name, but Hamrick says that likely will change at some point.

“There’s no real advantage to keeping the Whole Foods name over time,” he says and adds that Amazon might tinker with the name a bit to add its “footprint” to it.

More significant, Hamrick says, are changes that he expects to take place in the shopping experience over a longer term. Whole Foods prices likely will come down, he says, but Amazon also will transform the purchasing process.

He foresees Amazon using its technology and its supply and distribution chain to more rapidly adjust products that are on store shelves.

Current grocery stores don’t excel at anticipating demand for, say, coconut water or gluten-free products, Hamrick says, which can lead to shortages and customers shopping elsewhere. “Amazon should be able to know those preferences as soon as they’re happening and know what their suppliers have to offer.”

Consequently, Hamrick expects a lot of upheaval to occur in the grocery-store business, including market consolidation and investments in technology.

We’ll have more to say about the changing shopping experience at grocery stores in our July/August 2017 issue.