The global online giant’s acquisition of the Whole Foods Market brand may help provide retail footprint, says expert

On Friday Amazon announced its intention to acquire Whole Foods Market, a supermarket chain with more than 460 stores across the US, Canada and the UK, for $13.7 billion.

Whole Foods Market, founded in 1978, is a natural and organic foods supermarket and certified organic grocer with approximately 87,000 staff members across the company.

Last month CNBC reported that Amazon was in serious discussions about breaking into the prescription drug business, and the move to acquire Whole Foods may be a strategic one, suggest some experts.

“The acquisition of Whole Foods makes entry into pharmacy much easier for Amazon,” Stephen Buck, entrepreneur and co-founder of GoodRx, told CNBC on Friday.

“Amazon could use this retail footprint for consumers to pick up prescriptions.”

Morgan Stanley analysts have also written in a report that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods creates an entry point to drug delivery and provides the necessary real estate.

In a previous article they had suggested the lack of a brick and mortar presence was likely to hold back Amazon’s ability to penetrate the $465bn pharma market.

“Its acquisition of Whole Foods solves that issue,” say the Morgan Stanley analysts.

“Many regulatory and logistics questions remain, but at a high level this is a material step forward in Amazon’s potential ambitions to build a pharmacy business.”

However it may not yet be a done deal: a US politician has allegedly urged the US Department of Justice to conduct a review on the merger’s impact on prices, jobs and wages for suppliers and neighbourhood grocery stores.

Japan’s Amazon website (Amazon.co.jp) has already started selling pharmaceuticals, according to The Japan Times.

Orders require consultation with a pharmacist before purchase on the website, with customers needing to report their symptoms and medical history via a form on Amazon’s site. Items are only delivered after approval by a pharmacist.

A recent AJP poll revealed most of our readers (39%) do not support Amazon entering the pharmacy arena in Australia.

And a further 24% believe that Amazon is wholly incompatible with pharmacy as a sector.

However 14% have said they would consider working for the internet giant.