Wal­mart works to close gap with Ama­zon

Cape Breton Post - - News | Business - BY ANNE D’INNOCENZIO

Even af­ter an on­line spend­ing spree, it may be hard for Wal­mart to es­cape the Ama­zon in the room.

Wal­mart’s ac­qui­si­tion of Jet. com and brands that ap­peal to younger shop­pers gave it an ecom­merce boost as it works to close the gap be­tween it­self and the on­line leader. The world’s largest re­tailer is bet­ting on es­sen­tials like fresh pro­duce, and has ad­justed its ship­ping strat­egy to bet­ter com­pete with Ama­zon’s Prime pro­gram. But Ama­zon keeps in­no­vat­ing too, im­ple­ment­ing new tech­nol­ogy and try­ing to make shop­ping more con­ve­nient.

Marc Lore, a co-founder of Jet. com who is now head of Wal­mart’s U.S. on­line op­er­a­tions, says he’s con­fi­dent about the com­pany’s mo­men­tum and there’s plenty of room for it to thrive.

“I can tell you we are happy with the moves we are mak­ing, and we are happy with the re­sults,” Lore said at the Jet head­quar­ters in Hobo­ken, New Jersey. “It’s about mov­ing fast. It’s about in­no­vat­ing. And it’s a very big mar­ket.” He noted that e-com­merce sales in­dus­try­wide are still grow­ing 15 per cent per year.

Lore’s led Wal­mart’s ac­qui­si­tions of spe­cialty on­line re­tail­ers like ModCloth, Moose­jaw and ShoeBuy.com, and said he’s still look­ing at com­pa­nies that have ex­per­tise in cat­e­gories where Wal­mart wants to grow faster.

As Wal­mart pre­pares to show off some of its in­no­va­tions this week be­fore its share­holder meet­ing, there are signs that things are start­ing to click.

Sales at Wal­mart.com rose 63 per cent in the first quar­ter, up from 29 per cent growth in the pre­vi­ous quar­ter and mark­ing its fourth straight quar­ter of in­creases. De­spite its ac­qui­si­tions, Wal­mart said a ma­jor­ity of the in­crease was through Wal­mart. com and was fu­eled by changes in its ship­ping strat­egy and a dis­count for shop­pers who pick up their on­line or­ders. Wal­mart. com now of­fers 50 mil­lion prod­ucts in­clud­ing those from third­party sell­ers, up from 10 mil­lion a year ago. In com­par­i­son, Ama­zon has hun­dreds of mil­lions of prod­ucts.

AP PHOTO

In this Thurs­day, April 27, file photo, peo­ple walk past an Ama­zon Go store, cur­rently open only to Ama­zon em­ploy­ees, in Seat­tle.

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