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Walmart Buys Bare Necessities

Walmart is fighting with Amazon and using every possible card in this fight, but especially the acquisition card.  Walmart recently bought online lingerie seller Bare Necessities, and this is not their first purchase this month. The retail giant also bought online plus-size clothing maker Eloquii.

Why all the buying, one might wonder? Having exclusive brands in the house can give an edge that nobody else has and drive home sales. The retailer also wants to become an expert in certain categories, such as online intimate apparel sales, which are on the rise globally, but still have trouble with sizing. Other recent Walmart’s purchases include Moosejaw, Modcloth, and Bonobos for men’s fashion. All of them come after 2016 $3.3 billion purchase of Jet.com.

Bare Necessities was established in 1998 and today offers over 160 brands of underwear, from Calvin Klein undies to Spandex shapewear. The website has over 100,000 units of products and can be considered an expert of intimate apparel. The scope of Bare Necessities is overwhelming for sure – the company carries sizes of up to 56 and cup sizes of up to O, when Victoria’s Secret offers only size 40 DDD as their largest. Plus size is as in demand as ever, so going up to 56O is definitely a competitive advantage, and Walmart is seizing it.

Walmart definitely has a bigger agenda than just increasing its online intimate apparel presence. The retailer has been growing its fashion empire slowly, but surely for a while now. Bare Necessities will continue running independently, but some products might get featured on Jet.com and on Walmart.com. Jet.com is targeting urban millennials while Walmart.com is for everybody else.

Walmart is trying to change its reputation as a bottom dollar no style kind of place, and acquisitions like these are helping the image big time. As of today many upscale retailers refuse to be associated with Walmart, but that might change in the future. The giant is well on the way to become a one-stop online shopping place with the right talent, industry knowhow, and brand names.

Once the acquisition is done, Walmart often leaves the co-founders in charge not only at those bought companies, but as heads of entire departments and operations. For example, Jet.com’s co-founder Marc Lore is leading Jet.com Walmart US e-commerce business and Noah Wrubel from Bare Necessities will head intimates categories for Walmart and Jet.com.

Ever since Amazon purchased Whole Foods, Walmart has been on high alert and looking for good brands to buy.

Walmart’s US operations, which is 3/5 of all its business has been growing steadily and reported the highest sales in 10 years in the third quarter of this year. This is in part thanks to online operations growth by 40%, which also positively affects physical stores’ sales.

For the last couple of years Walmart has been investing heavily in online grocery ordering, delivery, and curb-side pick-up. Extra pick-up towers have been installed in most of Walmart’s 4,800 US locations. This number of stores and the fact that there is a Walmart in 10 miles for 90% of population is a huge competitive advantage, which Walmart taunts all the time. No wonder the merchant can do the least mile delivery a lot less costly than many smaller retailers.

Walmart is all about omni-channel strategy today – online ordering, curbside pickup, and delivery for free. So yes, Walmart is definitely still growing.

Amazon, on the other hand, is not about to step down or back off from the fight. Walmart is still a long way away from catching up to Amazon’s reputation. Walmart’s online commerce share jumped to 4.3% from 2.9% since 2012, but Amazon’s has grown to 46% from 24% over the same period of time.

Traffic is another number to consider – Walmart.com saw a huge surge in website visits this past August, even more than Amazon’s growth, but all in all Walmart had 4.77 billion visitors, which pales when compared with Amazon’s 21.1 billion over that same month.

Jet.com traffic went down 52% in August ahead of site’s re-launch and face lift. Walmart has a plan to conquer areas like New York City and all the affluent millennials there, who were never interested in Walmart before. This conquering remains to be seen as Jet.com re-launches and starts selling Bonobos apparel too.

In any case, it doesn’t look like Walmart is about to stop its acquisitions any time soon, so we may still see a few famous names joining the retail giant in the next months and years for better or for worse