The Detroit News - - Front Page -

kind of is­sues, could fol­low.

From its base with 4,700 U.S. stores, Wal­mart is lin­ing up other part­ners. In voice shop­ping, it hooked up with Google, which has signed up other chains such as Tar­get and Home De­pot to fight the dom­i­nance of Ama­zon’s Alexa-pow­ered Echo de­vices.

Lord & Tay­lor’s pres­i­dent Liz Rod­bell told The As­so­ci­ated Press the ar­range­ment with Wal­mart al­lows the chain to at­tract new cus­tomers who al­ready are buy­ing higher-end prod­ucts on Wal­ She called the part­ner­ship “a piv­otal mo­ment” for the re­tailer. It comes af­ter the chain’s par­ent com­pany an­nounced last month it was sell- ing its New York flag­ship build­ing to WeWork and leas­ing back a por­tion of the space.

Nei­ther com­pany would say the fi­nan­cial de­tails of the ar­range­ment.

Denise In­can­dela, head of fash­ion at Wal­mart’s U.S. e-com­merce division, says it’s fo­cus­ing on spe­cial­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences, start­ing with fash­ion. Since the $3 bil­lion-plus ac­qui­si­tion of last year, Wal­mart has bought sev­eral on­line brands like Bono­bos and ModCloth.

An­a­lysts say Wal­mart is de­vel­op­ing its own higher-end on­line mall as a way to counter Ama­zon’s dom­i­nance. Bines said it’s a good strat­egy, since Wal­ could at­tract “an en­tirely dif­fer­ent de­mo­graphic” from the chain’s phys­i­cal stores.

Wal­mart store cus­tomers have a me­dian house­hold in- come of about $48,000, be­low the $56,000 for wal­ cus­tomers, ac­cord­ing to Craig John­son, pres­i­dent of the re­tail con­sult­ing group Cus­tomer Growth Part­ners. Ama­ shop­pers have a me­dian in­come of $85,000, John­son es­ti­mates.

Lieb­mann says the big­ger ques­tion is whether there would be any re­sis­tance from Lord & Tay­lor shop­pers. Bono­bos and ModCloth fans com­plained vo­cif­er­ously on so­cial me­dia when re­ports were swirling about Wal­mart’s move to buy the brands. “It has to be pre­sented well,” Lieb­mann said.

Over­all, Bines ex­pects Ama­zon and Wal­mart to an­nounce more part­ner­ships. “In the next two or three years, com­pa­nies will chose sides,” he said. “But af­ter that, the lines will be blurred.”

John Raoux / AP

Kohl’s shop­pers can find Ama­zon de­vices at some stores and re­turn items they bought from the on­line store.

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