The article first appeared on Forbes.
A “massive shift” to shopper apparel spending online – translation, on Amazon — has Walmart betting on four new private fashion brands to gird its push into tonier fare, said Sarah Veit Wallis, vice president and general manager of lifestyle, and Preston Bottomy, general manager of prestige beauty, at the eTail West conference in Palm Desert, California.
Seeking higher margins via higher-priced goods, Walmart is looking to woo more affluent shoppers who buy technology and groceries at the chain but would typically walk past its fashion and beauty aisles, Bottomy said.
Launching on Walmart.com tomorrow and in stores is Time and Tru for women, plus-size label Terra & Sky, Wonder Nation for kids and also the relaunch of George, which is exclusively for men.
Walmart is cooking up a makeover so that its clothing area looks the part. To “upgrade the [apparel] shopping experience,” Walmart’s fashion department will bow a revamp this spring with improved signage, lifestyle photography and upgraded fixtures, Bottomy said, during a session entitled, Cutting Through: How The World’s Largest Retailer Is Creating A New Future Of Retail, One Fashionable Experience At A Time.
Meanwhile, Walmart is kissing goodbye longtime private brands like Faded Glory, which are getting “sunsetted,” said Veit Wallis.
The push is the latest expression of the digital transformation and cultural shift afoot at the world’s largest retailer. That shift seems the most dramatic in its U.S. online business, now in the hands of startup entrepreneur Marc Lore.
Lore sold Jet.com to Walmart in 2016, which marked the beginning of an acquisition binge that included more upmarket startups like apparel e-tailers ModCloth and menswear brand Bonobos. Walmart is also joining forces with Lord & Taylor to sell the high-end department stores’ goods on Walmart.com. (The online business hit a snag in the most recent quarter ended January 31. E-commerce sales growth stalled more than Walmart expected, sending shares plummeting.)
Walmart has long struggled to find a meaningful fashion niche in apparel beyond basic, commodity goods like t-shirts, jeans and socks. And it’s been down this upscale road before, with little success.
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