Walmart Elevates Profile With Anticipated Lord & Taylor Deal

Walmart, to build a more powerful online shopping destination that can better compete with Amazon, is on the verge of adding Lord & Taylor to its website. Walmart’s idea is to transform its site from a destination for discount goods to an online mall that would feature such higher-end brands as Lord & Taylor. For Lord & Taylor, the online traffic would be welcomed at a time that fewer consumers are visiting department stores. Jet.com and men’s clothing company Bonobos, both owned by Walmart, could also join the site.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Lord & Taylor will have dedicated space on the Walmart site, but “will continue to operate its own website.” Shoppers ordering from Lord & Taylor’s site will also be able to “pick up and return items at Walmart’s 4,700 U.S. retail stores.” Recent Walmart purchases include Jet, Moosejaw, Bonobos and ShoeBuy, which helped it “to expand its online selection and gain access to brands built online.”

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AlixPartners vice president Roshan Varma explains that, “smaller brands and retailers are wrestling with how to balance exclusivity with the need to grow online as Amazon and Walmart get bigger.” “It’s a little bit of a prisoner’s dilemma,” he says. “Are you going to defect or stay on your own?”

Jet founder Marc Lore, who now heads Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce operations, said that the company plans to “elevate the Walmart.com brands,” which include using blue branded boxes to ship orders, “redesigning the website and working on partnerships to gain access to more premium products.”

Former Aerosoles chief executive Denise Incandela, who was also former Ralph Lauren president of digital and Saks Fifth Avenue chief marketing officer, will become Walmart’s head of fashion for U.S. e-commerce.

Walmart is selling itself as “the only e-commerce operation that will be able to challenge Amazon,” although research firm comScore reports that its website draws 79 million monthly unique U.S. visitors, compared to Amazon’s 160 million. Amazon is also making inroads into fashion brands, such as, in June, reaching an agreement with Nike “to sell some of its products directly to the e-commerce company.”

Calvin Klein, Kate Spade and Levi Strauss have also inked deals with Amazon, which recently bought Whole Foods and struck a deal with Kohl’s “that lets shoppers return goods bought on Amazon at 82 Kohl’s locations.”