UPDATE: Walmart officially confirmed that Lord & Taylor will launch a flagship store on Walmart.com in spring 2018. The two companies have yet to reveal which retailer will be shipping purchased items.
“Our goal is to create a premium fashion destination on Walmart.com,” said Denise Incandela, Head of Fashion for Wal-Mart’s U.S. e-commerce division, in a statement. “We see customers on our site searching for higher-end items, and we are expanding our business online to focus on adding specialized and premium shopping experience, starting with fashion.”
Retailers have debated whether to compete with Amazon or sell via the marketplace. Now Walmart may be complicating matters by offering the opportunity for retailers to sell via its e-Commerce platform.
Walmart is nearing a deal with Lord & Taylor that would give the department store dedicated space on Walmart.com, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Lord & Taylor partnership would be the tip of the iceberg for Walmart, which reportedly has plans to create an online mall that would include its properties such as Jet.com and Bonobos.
The partnerships are similar to Amazon’s recent deals with brands including Nike, Lands’ End and Victoria’s Secret, in which the major brands bucked conventional wisdom by leveraging Amazon as another sales channel. Additionally, the anticipated business model appears to mirror that of Alibaba’s Tmall, an online B2C marketplace where foreign brands enlist to sell to Chinese consumers.
With the move, Walmart takes yet another step in its e-Commerce onslaught directed at Amazon. The retailer anticipates 40% U.S. e-Commerce sales growth in 2018, with plans to unveil a new web site design at the beginning of the year. Shoppers should be on the lookout for more premium brands on the Walmart site, particularly in the home and fashion verticals, according to Marc Lore, President of Walmart’s U.S. e-Commerce business, in a statement during the retailer’s annual investor day.
Selling via Walmart would likely help Lord & Taylor attract new customers. Walmart averaged 79 million unique monthly U.S. visitors, compared to Lord & Taylor’s 849,000, between February and July 2017, according to comScore.
But does the demographic of Walmart shoppers overlap with Lord & Taylor’s targets? “I know I’ve been quoted on this in an even more public forum, but what the heck are both sides thinking?” said Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner of Retail Systems Research in a RetailWire discussion. “Where is there any cross-over whatsoever between Walmart and Lord & Taylor customers and, if you were Lord & Taylor, is this where you’d go prospecting?”
It’s definitely a risk for Lord & Taylor, particularly in associating with a brand known for low prices. But, if Lord & Taylor succeeds outside its traditional target market, other brands may jump on board.