Report: Lord & Taylor, Walmart Prepping E-commerce Partnership

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Going up against an 800-lb gorilla is a tricky prospect—especially if you’re going it alone.

In the match up between Walmart and Amazon, the big-box retailer has been steadily growing its online capabilities and stable of apparel-related brands. Now, its recruiting other retailers to join in in creating a rival shopping destination—anti-Amazon.com.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Walmart is in talks with Lord & Taylor to sell its goods via Walmart.com. The discount retailer is looking to transform its site into a multi-brand experience, spanning a range of price points. Sources say the company is weighing similar arrangements with other traditional retailers. While consumers will be able to shop their favorite retailers and brands on the site, those companies will still handle their own inventory and fulfillment.

By bolstering its product offerings, Walmart is looking to close the gap between itself and Amazon, which draws double the monthly online traffic in the U.S.

“Walmart is positioning itself as a clear No. 2 in the space,” a source told the Journal.

A partnership like this would also help retailers like Lord & Taylor that aren’t digitally native quickly bridge the digital divide. It would also provide the department store with more consumer touch points as the deal reportedly includes the ability for shoppers to pick up and return Lord & Taylor goods to Walmart stores.

Last week, Walmart announced its intention to focus Jet.com on younger, urban shoppers “through innovations as well as by offering premium assortment and premium products,” a spokesperson told the New York Post.

But this latest news indicates the company is not only interested in elevating Jet but it’s flagship site as well. Walmart e-commerce U.S. CEO Marc Lore touched on this point at the Shop.org conference last month, while discussing the site’s assortment.

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“The focus really for me now is how do you make sure you have the best selling products in the top million and how do you get brands that maybe traditionally haven’t wanted to be on Walmart to be on there,” Lore said, acknowledging that better brands don’t always see themselves as a fit for the Bentonville, Arkansas-based chain. “We’ve worked on elevating the Walmart brand. We’ve moved to colored blue boxes now. We’re redesigning the website. Doing a lot of things to change the look and the feel of the branding.”

The fashion piece of the puzzle will be lead by Denise Incandela, a former executive at Aerosoles shoes, Ralph Lauren and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Though the retailer hasn’t made any announcements yet, it’s possible that Bonobos and Modcloth, two recent Walmart acquisitions, could end up on Walmart.com. And there could be more to come. Speaking at a WSJ D.Live event recently, Lore said expect more, especially in the areas of tech and retail.

Lore explained the two ways his company looks at acquisitions. “[It’s] two different strategies. With respect to the first strategy, it’s really about trying to accelerate growth on the existing site. It’s more of an asset purchase than anything else it’s not really ROI in the site that we acquired as much as what it can do to accelerate growth on Walmart and Jet,” he said. The other one DNB [digitally native brands] is really about thinking into the future and that’s really more strategic.”


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