But in the hands of Amazon it would be a potent weapon against archrival Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, which dominates the grocery world and has been stepping up its e-commerce.
The deal could be "transformative", Moody's lead retail analyst Charlie O'Shea said, "not just for food retail, but for retail in general". Customers are assigned a personal shopper who scours the aisles, purchases and delivers items from retailers like Whole Foods.
The deal further shows Amazon's willingness to take on Bricks and Mortar (B&M) outlets. It does well if you live in the right place.
What do you think it will be like to walk into a Whole Foods 10 years from now? "It's a bit unsettling". Whole Foods already has a lot of in-store dining and lots of prepared foods. "I'm aging, and I was in there and I was surprised how many people were bent over with age".
- Supervalu. The grocery store operator lost 54 cents, or 14.4 percent, to $3.22. Whole Foods itself had launched an offshoot chain named after its "365" private label brand in a nod to the popularity of no-frills chains.
Meanwhile, Whole Foods - with a fleet of more than 460 stores - has come under fire from activist investors for dreary sales as organic grocers such as Sprouts Farmers Market and Natural Grocers and traditional grocers such as Walmart, Kroger and Target, increasingly offering their own organic options, hone in on the Austin-based grocery chain's turf. Backed by its express delivery network, it has entered the US grocery market with limited success through its online platform in recent years under a brand name known as AmazonFresh.
"The conventional grocery store should feel threatened and incapable of responding", Pachter said.
That could help Amazon cut shipping costs and give the company opportunities to sell even more products once in the store.
"From the moment Jana had announced its stake in Whole Foods.an onslaught of attention from media and banks ensued", Whole Foods' chief executive, John Mackey, said in a Texas Monthly article this month.
He said that even if Amazon gets 20 million members of its Prime loyalty program to pay $15 a month extra for AmazonFresh grocery-delivery service, that's 20 million not going to traditional supermarkets.
"This will definitely make the market more competitive", she added.
The Whole Foods deal is expected to close in the second half of 2017, pending shareholder and regulatory approvals. It increasingly looks like that "however" is a hybrid of physical stores and online-ordering channels, and each company is coming at the goal from a different starting point.... "Either way, it's good for consumers like myself", said Di Wu, a NY resident in her early 30s who is a member of Amazon's Prime fast-shipping club and who shops at Whole Foods at least twice a week.