Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMTB) is positioning itself as an online #2 to Amazon.com Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AMZNC) #1. If things go as planned, Wal-Mart hopes eventually to move into the #1 slot. To accomplish this the big bog discounter has quite a few irons in the fire.
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Birth Of An Online MallFor starters Wal-Mart, which so far has purchased e-commerce sites Moosejaw, Bonobos and ShoeBuy, along with e-commerce giant, Jet.com, is in the process of building a solid online shopping experience.
The company wants to expand selection and also give customers access to premium brands. Along with premium brands, come high income shoppers, another important part of Wal-Mart’s master plan.
Lord & Taylor
As part of the process, Wal-Mart will be using blue branded boxes to ship Walmart.com orders, redesigning its website and seeking to forge even more partnerships with premium vendors. It is also courting high-fashion department store chain, Lord & Taylor (owned by Hudson’s Bay Co.) to become part of its online mall experience.
If the deal goes through, shoppers at Lord & Taylor’s website will be able to pick up and return items at Wal-Mart’s 4,700 U.S. retail stores. The department store would own the inventory and fulfill orders. The only difference, according to one source is that the experience would be on Walmart.com.
Amazon Continues Its Push
Amazon hasn’t stopped its efforts while waiting for Wal-Mart to catch up. Far from it. The e-commerce giant convinced Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKEC) to sell products directly to Amazon and has also reached agreements with Calvin Klein, Kate Spade & Co. (:KATEN/A) and Levi Strauss.
Amazon also recently bought Whole Foods and struck a deal with Kohl’s Corp. KSS that allows shoppers to return items purchased on Amazon to 82 Kohl’s stores.
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More From Wal-Mart
Meanwhile Wal-Mart is working on using virtual reality to allow shoppers to, for example, try out products – such as tents – from the comfort of their homes. The use of VR is in the future, but very much part of Wal-Mart’s plans.
Other ideas, including 3-D holograms at Bonobos.com, the male clothing site Wal-Mart acquired this year; 3-D photos that allow customers of ModCloth to try clothing on; an “interactive virtual store”; the ability to interact with other shoppers and experts and even an online tool that looks around your home and points out safety hazards and product suggestions to alleviate them – are all somewhat futuristic but on Wal-Mart’s “to-do” list.