Walmart may have made the latest move in its hard-fought battle with Amazon for retail dominion.
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Walmart is close to inking a deal with luxury department store chain Lord & Taylor. Citing people familiar with the matter, WSJ reports that the potential deal would not only see Walmart offer Lord & Taylor’s merchandise on its website, but it could also help the retailer transform itself from a discount site to an online shopping destination offering high-end items.
Should the deal materialize, it would help Walmart stake its claim as a formidable alternative to online behemoth Amazon.
While a partnership with Walmart — which bought high-end men’s clothing brand Bonobos along with online retailers ShoeBuy, ModCloth and Moosejaw this year — comes with some branding challenges for luxury names, Lord & Taylor could reap benefits from such a relationship.
The Hudson’s Bay Co.-owned department store has experienced slipping sales for some time. HBC said in September that Q2 comparable store sales declined by 1.6 percent in its Department Store Group — comprising its Hudson’s Bay, Lord & Taylor and Home Outfitters banners. Meanwhile, digital sales in that area of HBC’s business enjoyed a 19.8 percent gain — an indication that this segment of Lord & Taylor’s business is its strongest and could be accelerated with the right partnership.
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WSJ’s sources also suggested that Lord & Taylor customers may be able to pick up online orders at Walmart stores — another potential boon to Lord & Taylor, which has only 50 doors in which to facilitate buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). Currently, BOPIS is available only at select Lord & Taylor locations.
Walmart in recent months has moved aggressively to expand its presence in the online and fashion realms — snapping up digital retailers and fashion names to add to its roster. (Walmart began its digital shopping spree with the purchase of Jet.com last year.) Meanwhile, Amazon — which made a major power move against Walmart with its purchase of grocery chain Whole Foods — is also ramping up its fashion expertise, launching a pilot program with Nike, a new wardrobe delivery service and private-label footwear this year.
Walmart declined to comment for this story. Lord & Taylor did not immediately return Footwear News‘ request for comment.