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With the news last week that U.S. regulators plan to take more time to review Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, industry analysts can now take more time to speculate on the strategic implications of one of the biggest retail mergers in years. What is Amazon really up to?

Some have interpreted Amazon’s move as a signal that the online giant is finally giving in and investing big into brick-and-mortar retail.  Digging deeper, though, it’s clear that Amazon’s real interest is in two things: first, the treasure trove of consumer data that comes with this acquisition; and second, Whole Foods’ private brand product.

Let’s start with the data. What exactly is in the Whole Foods data that Amazon would want? Answer: Grocery buying habits and patterns.  Preferences.  Correlations between purchases of different products and even different categories.

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