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Amazon to buy Whole Foods, industry experts call it 'a game changer'

Amazon announced Friday that it's buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Amazon announced Friday that it's buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. Some call it a bold move into the fiercely-competitive grocery business.

“It's a game changer,” said industry expert Tamara Wilson.

Wilson was a marketing consultant for Metropolitan Market for 16 years, and has been working in the grocery industry since 1987. She said the merger could open a lot of doors for supply and distribution.

“Amazon was brilliant to align themselves with whole foods. They are going to be perfect partners,” said Wilson.

But, it may also mean big concerns for big grocery chains.

“It’s going to crush the Safeways, the Albertsons, the Krogers. Those grocery stores typically have a two percent profit margin. They don't have a profit margin that Whole Foods has which is eight percent,” said Wilson. “So now, they are going to need to try and catch up with technology, if they want to compete with this and that’s going to require a large investment on their part.”

Zach Stratton, spokesman for Kroger-owned QFC responded Friday in a statement that read: “Our associates have a relentless focus on our customers that has enabled Kroger to compete and win in an ever-evolving landscape for more than 134 years. As we've done in the past, we will evolve our business to deliver what our customers want and need today and into the future."

Tech giant Amazon is known for testing grocery concepts with AmazonFresh pickup sites and an Amazon Go store.

Industry experts said if anything, the move forces supermarket competitors to upgrade their game online and in-store. And that could be a win, said some shoppers.

“All I'm going to be interested in is the prices, like a lot people I'm sure,” said shopper Marleen Land.

“I think competition is good. So I think maybe Safeway, QFC, and others have to step it up a little bit,” said shopper Linda Perkins.

The grocery business is a $600 billion industry. Whole Foods only has about three percent of the brick-and-mortar stores.

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