Walmart, which has the largest share of the US food market, has already been pushing harder into e-commerce to build on strength in its stores and groceries. If the Amazon deal goes through, that program will be put to the test.
During the decades since Mackey founded Whole Foods, it has emerged as a cultural icon and a force in its industry.
"I think it's insane, but you never know", says Cheryl Simeone, packing her trunk with groceries outside a Walmart supercenter in Hudson, Mass., on a Saturday morning. On June 15, 2017, the Company reportedly entered an Agreement and Plan of Merger with Amazon, whereby Amazon will pay $42 per share in cash for each share of Whole Foods. 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.
Mergermarket's Lim says the first challenge for Amazon is how to successfully run a physical supermarket chain. "I think you're gonna see Whole Foods Market evolve in leaps and bounds". Many also say they will always want to do some of their grocery shopping in person to see what they're buying.
"Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy".
As sales declined at established locations, Whole Foods recently said it was hitting the brakes on expansion and that it no longer saw potential for 1,200 locations. Wilke also noted that Mackey would continue as CEO of Whole Foods, which prompted Mackey to interject by continuing the romantic allusion. It has spent several years lowering prices and focusing on fresh produce in a bid to thwart giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which generates more than half of its revenue from groceries.
"In five years, I will be 63", says Patty McGuire, a Walmart shopper from neighboring Marlborough, Mass.
Kroger has been investing in so-called "click-and-collect" technology, which allows customers to order online and pick up their groceries at a store.
"Rotisserie Chicken and a $1.50 hot dog meals are symbolic but indicative of a low price and high quality strategy which generates consistent global growth and price leadership in the industry", Cowen and Company analysts led by Oliver Chen wrote in a research note Monday.
That could help Amazon cut shipping costs and give the company opportunities to sell even more products once in the store. Pachter said Amazon might get customers over those fears if they know the delivered items are the same as those they would find at the local store.
The analysts point to some moves Costco is making to increase its online presence, including adding several fulfillment centers in the past year and testing one-to-three-day delivery from Bedford, Illinois to 17 states.