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Last year began with a tidal wave of mall brand bankruptcies and store closures, the casualties of a major shift taking place in retail. It’s came to a close with a consolidation of power, as traditional brick-and-mortar retailers forged partnerships with shopping’s most aggressive force, Amazon, and the country’s biggest store chain, Walmart, which is working its butt off to compete with Amazon online. Indeed, you’ll soon be able to shop Lord & Taylor on Walmart.com.
The two announced in November that they’ve paired up to launch an online Lord & Taylor flagship within Walmart’s site, a deal that, as our friends at Recode put it, “would have once seemed unfathomable” due to their radically different price points and brand identities. But now it syncs up with both of their objectives. Department stores are struggling, and Lord & Taylor is trying to stay afloat by reaching more shoppers online; meanwhile, Walmart is trying to make itself a premium fashion destination. (Amazon wants the same, of course.)
On May 16, Walmart said that its Lord & Taylor flagship would start rolling out to customers “in the coming weeks” and offered up some additional details about what it will look like. The Lord & Taylor section on Walmart’s site will sell more than 125 brands at launch (like Tommy Bahama, Vince Camuto, and Lucky Brand), with a price point that hits higher than most of Walmart’s clothing. A ruffled dress by H Halston will be priced at $159, for instance, compared to $14 for an off-the-shoulder dress that’s currently available on Walmart’s main site.
To help shoppers navigate that price difference, Walmart is adding a button to filter by “Everyday” and “Premium” brands, the latter being Lord & Taylor’s domain. By making it so easy to toggle between the two, Walmart is inviting higher-spending customers to explore the rest of its (rapidly expanding) universe, which now includes acquisitions like Bonobos and ModCloth.
In the last year, we’ve seen numerous retailers (like Lord & Taylor) cave and join forces with the more viable players on the scene. Nike has decided to start selling through Amazon. Sears has put its Kenmore appliances on Amazon. Google and Walmart are working together on voice shopping to compete with Amazon’s Alexa.
Less than a decade ago, smaller retailers and city politicians were blaming Walmart for killing off local businesses and jobs. Now, hooking up with the enemy seems preferable to getting demolished by the more pressing threat in e-commerce: Amazon.
This story has been updated to reflect that Amazon is still a smaller company than Walmart. It has also been updated with new information about the partnership.