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Wal-Mart’s Online Sales Surge, Tops 1Q Expectations

Wal-Mart delivered first-quarter results that show it’s winning over shoppers at stores and online, even as the competition intensifies.

The world’s largest retailer said that sales at established stores rose for the eleventh straight quarter, and customer traffic rose for the tenth quarter in a row. That’s a rare bright spot in a largely gloomy retail environment in which retailers like Macy’s and Target saw declines in comparable sales.

Online sales at Walmart.com surged 63 percent, a dramatic increase from the 29 percent growth in the previous quarter. Though the company has been buying up smaller internet retailers, Wal-Mart said a majority of the digital sales growth was through Walmart.com and was fueled by changes in its shipping strategy and a discount for shoppers who pick up their online orders.

“We’re transforming to become more of a digital enterprise,” said Doug McMillon, CEO and president of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Wal-Mart, like other traditional retailers, has played catch-up to Amazon and other internet companies. It has retooled how it operates online and accelerated that shift with its acquisitions.

The company spent more than $3 billion for Jet.com last year in its bid to lure younger and more affluent customers. With Jet.com founder Marc Lore installed as head of Walmart.com, it bought ShoeBuy.com, outdoor gear seller Moosejaw and trendy clothing seller ModCloth. The clothing sites are operating as stand-alone operators and appeal to younger shoppers.

Wal-Mart also raised its stake in JD.com, China’s No. 2 e-commerce site.

Under Lore, the company is still looking for startups to buy. Since he joined the company, the number of items available, including on its third-party online marketplace, has risen to more than 50 million. That’s up 10 million from a year ago. Wal-Mart is working to accelerate the integration between Wal-Mart.com and Jet.com, and trying to take advantage of its scale in…

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