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Online retail giant Amazon is making a bold expansion into physical stores with a $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods, setting the stage for radical retail experiments that could revolutionize how people buy groceries and everything else. Amazon could try to use automation and data analysis to draw more customers to stores while helping Whole Foods cut costs and perhaps prices. Meanwhile, the more than 460 Whole Foods stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. could be turned into distribution hubs — not just for delivering groceries but as pickup centers for online orders.
Amazon is buying Whole Foods in a deal valued at about $13.7 billion, a stunning move into brick-and-mortar retail that sets the stage for more radical store experimentation and intensified competition with grocery rivals. The deal unites the online juggernaut with the grocery store chain that fell behind as the organic and natural foods it helped popularize expanded to more locations and shoppers found “good enough” alternatives.