Since Amazon announced plans to acquire Whole Foods 11 months ago, there has been speculation regarding how the Prime benefits at Whole Foods would be integrated.

Here’s an interesting statistic to ponder: Roughly 75% of Whole Foods shoppers are Amazon Prime members, but less than 20% of Amazon Prime members are Whole Foods shoppers.

Given those numbers, coupled with Amazon's recent announcement that it eclipsed 100 million global Prime members, the possibilities seem endless to deepen the integration of the Amazon Prime program and Whole Foods customers.

Whole Foods meals
Bloomberg News

Amazon has been preparing for its momentous foray into the grocery industry, almost silently developing its online grocery competencies through Amazon Prime Pantry and AmazonFresh.

For Whole Foods, the potential to tap into the sheer volume of new customers via the Amazon Prime premium loyalty program is unprecedented. This could change the grocer’s trajectory.

In a press release last August, Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, talked about the company’s commitment to Whole Foods.

“We’re determined to make healthy and organic food affordable for everyone,” Wilke said. “And this is just the beginning — we will make Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods Market and continuously lower prices as we invent together.”

Grocery has always been elusive for Amazon because of the perishable nature of the products, but it’s a category that makes perfect sense given the repeat-purchase behavior of its customers.

But, Amazon’s gradual entry into grocery has picked up speed since its acquisition of Whole Foods.

As the gold standard premium loyalty program, Amazon Prime has been able to fill the gap between what people expect from these kinds of programs, both on a rational and emotional basis — via innovation and technology.

That speed, value, and special treatment Amazon Prime members receive will be evident now in the grocery industry at Whole Foods.

The needs of the customer are at the center of every move that Amazon makes. Therefore, this move is a crucial moment for the grocery and loyalty industries as a whole.

It’s especially pivotal now since consumers have a variety of nontraditional options to buy groceries. If Amazon seamlessly integrates Amazon Prime into its Whole Foods stores, it could create an unparalleled shopping experience that offers fresh food, convenience and low prices.

What’s more, competitive grocery chains could start to feel the same pressure that traditional retail has from Amazon in the past decade.