Will greater variety of offerings be enough to bolster sales?
E-commerce startup Jet, now owned by Walmart, has added a number of Walmart brands, including “Great Value,” “Equate” and “Sam’s Choice,” to its offerings to bolster its relatively thin assortment, according to Bloomberg. Made possible by the merging of Walmart’s fulfillment system and Jet’s operations, the move comes amid reports that Walmart is more closely aligning its e-commerce assortments and fulfillment operations with its brick-and-mortar operations.
Some say that Jet cannot undercut Amazon, however, so Walmart’s gamble with the Jet acquisition may not pay off, as Innovative Retail Technologies reported. Walmart’s acquisition of Jet last fall marked a clear departure from “third way strategies,” and demonstrated the retail giant’s commitment to ecommerce initiatives. Recently, Walmart has focused on its digital offerings and the expansion of its e-commerce business. Retail analyst Neil Saunders told the New York Times that Jet’s model of encouraging bulk buying would help Walmart boost areas that it has previously faltered. Walmart introduced its “Shipping Pass,” an invitation-only $50 per year subscription that gives members free three day shipping to directly challenge Amazon.
Jet asserts that it is winning against Amazon in the important ways. In a company statement, Jet officials asserted, “For those items viewed on Jet, we are more frequently at parity with or below Amazon shipped and sold but the more important point is that our baskets cost less when people shop smarter using our proprietary system.”
The new Walmart branded offerings may help Jet to offset Amazon’s edge. While Walmart.com and Jet.com will continue to operate separate sites and target different customer groups, according to spokesman Dan Toporek, in certain cases, “where there are gaps in the assortment,” Jet.com will offer the Wal-Mart store brands. One example would be Great Value organic foods, he said. “Because we’ve linked our fulfillment centers now, you can effectively put any private on Jet if it makes sense.”
Walmart’s U.S. online revenue rose by double digits for the third straight quarter, with holiday results that exceeded analysts’ expectations.
“We’re happy about how fast we’re moving but still have a lot of work to do,” Jet.com co-founder Marc Lore and head of Walmart’s online operations, told reporters in an earnings call. Walmart also recently acquired outdoor e-tailer Moosejaw. The $51 million acquisition is designed to best Amazon in the apparel and sporting goods categories.