Even after an online spending spree, it may be hard for Wal-Mart to escape the Amazon in the room.
Wal-Mart’s acquisition of Jet.com and brands that appeal to younger shoppers gave it an e-commerce boost as it works to close the gap between itself and the online leader. The world’s largest retailer is betting on essentials like fresh produce, and has adjusted its shipping strategy to better compete with Amazon’s Prime program. But Amazon keeps innovating too, implementing new technology and trying to make shopping more convenient.
Marc Lore, a co-founder of Jet.com who is now head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. online operations, says he’s confident about the company’s momentum and there’s plenty of room for it to thrive.
“I can tell you we are happy with the moves we are making, and we are happy with the results,” Lore said at the Jet headquarters in Hoboken, New Jersey. “It’s about moving fast. It’s about innovating. And it’s a very big market.” He noted that e-commerce sales industrywide are still growing 15 percent per year.
Lore’s led Wal-Mart’s acquisitions of specialty online retailers like ModCloth, Moosejaw and ShoeBuy.com, and said he’s still looking at companies that have expertise in categories where Wal-Mart wants to grow faster.
As Wal-Mart prepares to show off some of its innovations this week before its shareholder meeting, there are signs that things are starting to click.
Sales at Walmart.com rose 63 percent in the first quarter, up from 29 percent growth in the previous quarter and marking its fourth straight quarter of increases. Despite its acquisitions, Wal-Mart said a majority of the increase was through Walmart.com and was fueled by changes in its shipping strategy and a discount for shoppers who pick up their online orders. Walmart.com now offers 50 million products including those from third-party sellers, up from 10 million a…