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Walmart Goes On Digital M&A Spree To Compete With Amazon

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The war between retail heavy hitters Walmart Inc. (NYSE :WMT) and Amazon Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) for online supremacy is on.

In 2011, the retail giant set out on a digital transformation that would see it break with its old models and link e-commerce seamlessly to its physical stores and warehouses. Walmart set up an independent online retail unit that employed thousands of people in human resource for online sales and spent $1 billion on equipment every year.

And so far, the strategy appears to be bearing fruit and even exceeding expectations.

Amazon might still be the undisputed e-commerce king as evidenced by its trailing 12-month sales of $220 billion. Yet, Walmart’s 40 percent online sales growth during the last quarter rivaled Amazon’s 29 percent clip and has propelled the retailer to the third spot in the list of America’s leading online retailers, only trailing Amazon and eBay Inc. (NASDAQ:EBAY).

 A lot of that growth has been coming from M&A plays with the company bingeing on a string of online brands for several years now. Here’s a look at the slew of digitally native retailers that Walmart has added to its war chest over the years:

#1 Vudu

One of the company’s oldest digital acquisitions, Vudu is a streaming and media company that Walmart bought back in 2010. The purchase was probably done in a bid to compete with Amazon’s Prime video offering.

This fall, Walmart struck a deal with MGM Holdings and video startup Eko to create original content for the site.

#2 Kosmix

Kosmix is a social media startup that Walmart acquired for $300 million in 2011. The company was founded by the same team that started Junglee, one of the earliest price comparison search engines that was later acquired by Amazon. Kosmix operated a social media outfit that organized content by topic and was later integrated with Walmart Labs. Related: Tesla Cuts Prices As China Suspends Auto Tariffs

#3 Jet.com

Jet.com is one of Walmart’s highest-profile M&A plays in the digital space, with the retailer having splurged $3.3 billion on the company. Jet.com positions itself as a low-price e-commerce site that uses a mix of money-saving techniques and a heavy dose of marketing to lure potential buyers away from sites like Amazon. Jet.com remains a distinct brand that operates independently of Walmart.

#4 Shoes.com

Walmart bought pure-play e-commerce player Shoes.com for $70 million in January 2017 in what was seen as a move to bolster inventory on Jet.com and boost overall sales growth.

#5 Modcloth

Walmart’s 2017 purchase of this vintage-inspired apparel seller made headlines for the wrong reasons: customers fretting that Walmart’s budget-driven business practices would dilute the brand.

#6 Bonobos

Bonobos is an upscale men’s clothing brand that Walmart purchased in 2017 for $310 million. The acquisition advanced the company’s strategy to bolster its online-centric brands though like Modcloth it caused some furor at the time.

#7 Eloquii

Walmart snapped up Eloquii—a plus-size retailer with a fanatical following—for a reported $100 million. This one also followed the same playbook of fans not being hugely thrilled about the acquisition.

Related: Bad News Builds For Global Markets

#8 Art.com

Art.com has become the latest addition to Walmart’s growing list of acquisitions. Walmart US SVP said the acquisition is intended to give its customers the inspiration and confidence to make beautiful homes without breaking the bank.

#9 Parcel

Walmart doubled down on its delivery capabilities with the purchase of Parcel in October 2017. The company now provides same-day deliveries in the New York area through its Jet.com subsidiary.

#10 Bare Necessities

Walmart has been laser-focused on expanding its apparel business, and the purchase of online lingerie site Bare Necessities in October this year allows customers to choose from than 160 brands of swimsuits, underwear, bras and sleepwear.

By Alex Kimani for Safehaven.com

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