Amazon’s blockbuster deal to acquire Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion could surpass a major milestone this week.
On Wednesday, Whole Foods shareholders are expected to vote on the deal, which would propel Amazon further into the grocery business than it has ever been. Analysts expect Whole Foods shareholders to approve the acquisition, paving the way for the transaction to close later this year.
We still know very little about how Amazon plans to integrate its technology into Whole Foods or what changes the retail giant might make to grocer’s business. At the time of the announcement of the deal in June Amazon said it had no plans for layoffs or to automate Whole Foods stores using the technology it is developing for Amazon Go.
The acquisition gives Amazon a massive physical retail footprint. Whole Foods, which started in Austin, Texas in 1980, operates 468 stores in North America and the United Kingdom. Amazon has begun building out its own retail footprint, with two AmazonFresh Pickup stores opening in Seattle, the first checkout-free Amazon Go and a growing complement of bookstores.
Though the deal sent grocery stocks spiraling when it was announced, Amazon and Whole Foods have a long way to go to catch the nation’s biggest grocer, Walmart. CNBC reported last month that Walmart has the highest marketshare in the grocery industry at 14.5 percent. Combined, Amazon and Whole Foods represent 1.4 percent of the grocery market.