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A Year After Amazon Announced Its Acquisition Of Whole Foods, Here's Where We Stand

Date: Saturday, June 16, 2018 7:04 PM EDT

Here are seven ways the Amazon-Whole Foods deal has changed the grocery industry

It's been a year since Amazon bought Whole Foods. At the time of the deal, which came as the grocer was under pressure from activist investor Jana Partners, Whole Foods was struggling.

It had been first to the specialty and organic game, but as larger competitors also moved into the space, it was ceding ground. With scale and better infrastructure, these retailers could offer many of the same products at a better price. Whole Foods was behind its competitors in technology and developing a loyalty program.

Its challenges showed through in its finances. In 2017, before its sale to Amazon, same-store sales were declining 1.5 percent, according to regulatory filings. The previous year, they were declining 2.5 percent.

The deal between the two — which was at one point known as Project Athena — came together under intense secrecy, after Whole Foods CEO John Mackey reached out to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos through an industry consultant. Amazon told Whole Foods if word of the deal leaked, it would call it off.

A year later, here's where we are.

Whole Foods stores look different

Whole Foods gave Amazon the brick-and-mortar platform that many internet retailers have begun to realize is essential to minimizing the costs of returns, delivery and marketing — not that Amazon needs much of the latter.

Already, Amazon has begun to sell its devices like Echo in stores and opened up lockers for delivery in certain Whole Foods locations. In some stores, there are now signs for special discounts for Amazon Prime members. Eventually, those discounts will be national. Whole Foods has also begun to offer free delivery for Prime members.

As Amazon continues to centralize its merchandising (more on that later), there may be fewer employees in its stores.

Retail consultant Matt Bailey (left) helps customer Geoff Witherspoon at the Amazon Pop-Up in the Union Station Whole Foods on Thursday, March 22, 2018.

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