Thursday, June 29, 2017
Walmart Canada has again taken aim directly at Amazon, this time by increasing the amount of products available on its walmart.ca website.
Walmart will, over the next two months, open its website up to an "endless aisle" of third-party Marketplace sellers, making goods from outside brands and small businesses available for sale, according to a Financial Post article.
Walmart Canada's move, which comes just as Amazon is making a bold move into bricks-and-mortar fresh grocery retailing through its pending purchase of Whole Foods, has been in the works for a long time, CEO Lee Tappenden told the Financial Post in an interview. “We will double the SKUS we have online at the launch date, and by early next year we will have millions of SKUs online.”
At the same time, Walmart Canada is launching in-store pickup for the goods it sells online, a model known in the industry as “click and collect.” It’s a draw for customers who want to save the cost of having items delivered to their homes.
“Our plan is to have 100 stores with (the feature) by Christmas,” Tappenden said, and over time roll out the pick-up feature to the remainder of Walmart’s 410 stores across the country.
It comes well over a decade into a war between Amazon and big-box retailers such as Walmart and Best Buy, who have been dealing with Amazon and eBay’s encroachment into what was originally their biggest asset — a vast selection.
“Walmart was designed based on assortment, a one-stop shop, and this is still what it is today,” Tappenden said as he strolled through the aisles of the company’s Ancaster, Ont. outlet near Hamilton, which features the retailer’s newest digitally integrated store layout. “This is just making that transition to combine in store and online.”
Walmart’s U.S. division has been on an online acquisition tear of late in an aggressive bid to fight Amazon, acquiring e-commerce brands, such as womenswear site ModCloth and menswear site Bonobos and Shoes.com, that are more upscale and fashionable than Walmart's in-store brands. As department stores and apparel specialists close stores at a record pace, it is predicted Amazon will be the biggest clothing seller in the U.S. by the end of the year, the news article said.
Walmart.com in the U.S. opened up its distribution platform to third-party online Marketplace sellers in 2009, and Tappenden said the move will allow the Canadian unit to offer thousands of brands to consumers that are not on offer at Walmart. “Baby brands, toy, home, apparel — brands that would have an affinity with us,” he said.
“If you are going to stay relevant to consumers at this point, this is the right response,” said George Minakakis, CEO at the Toronto-based Inception Retail Group. “You need to bring the (store-based) business into Amazon’s environment.”