Walmart goes upmarket in fashion partnership with Lord & Taylor
Deena M. Amato-McCoy
The quest to take on Amazon is making for some strange bedfellows.
Walmart announced that Lord & Taylor will launch an online "flagship store" on Walmart.com that will offer premium fashion brands directly from the department store retailer. It is expected to launch in spring 2018.
The partnership, which had been rumored for weeks, comes as Walmart continues to push deeper into premium apparel and to target a more affluent customer base. It gives Lord & Taylor the opportunity to expand its online reach — with a company whose digital capabilities keep growing.
“Our goal is to create a premium fashion destination on Walmart.com,” said Denise Incandela, head of fashion, Walmart U.S. e-commerce. “We see customers on our site searching for higher-end items, and we are expanding our business online to focus on adding specialized and premium shopping experiences, starting with fashion. "
Walmart said it will be adding "elements of discovery and inspiration" with regards to how people shop on the site. It will feature a dedicated Lord & Taylor store icon on Walmart.com and the Walmart app — a move that will expose the department store brand to more shoppers than it currently does through its brand’s online store.
“As retail continues to change, this flagship store creates enormous growth opportunities for Lord & Taylor and our brand partners,” said Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor, which is owned by Hudson's Bay Company. "Walmart.com is a shopping destination that reaches a wide base of customers looking for premium fashion brands. They are a great company for us to work with as we continue to grow our digital presence.”
The partnership could also be a stepping stone for an even bigger project: the opportunity to establish Walmart.com as an online mall, according to a recent report in Fortune.
Lord & Taylor is a good fit for the potential operation, as it also complements the discount giant’s recent acquisitions, Bonobos, ModCloth, Moosejaw, ShoeBuy and online retailer jet.com — all of which could also be featured in the virtual mall.
The strategy rivals similar operations run by Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which both offer dedicated space to brands on their websites. Such arrangements allow companies to increase traffic to their e-commerce platforms and let retailers boost their online assortments.