August 22, 2019

Walmart's Troubled Quest to Keep Up with Amazon

“In September of 2016, Walmart made a giant, risky bet.

The country’s most dominant brick-and-mortar retailer agreed to the largest-ever acquisition of an e-commerce company: a $3.3 billion purchase of a fast-growing but money-sucking online shopping site called Jet.com.

There were no other bidders for Jet back then, but Walmart was desperate to close the huge gap between itself and Amazon, the online shopping wrecking ball. And CEO Doug McMillon had become convinced that Jet founder and CEO Marc Lore, who previously founded Diapers.com and sold it for a fortune to Amazon, was perhaps the only person who could do it.

Nearly three years later, Walmart’s stock price is up 53 percent, compared to a 38 percent increase for the S&P 500 over the same period of time.

The company’s US online sales increased 40 percent last year, buoyed by a successful expansion of an online grocery business; the digital-first brands and digital-first talent it has acquired have breathed new life into its portfolio; and it has shed at least part of its reputation for being a digital dinosaur.”

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