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Walmart to acquire online men's clothing retailer Bonobos

18 June 2017
Walmart to acquire online men's clothing retailer Bonobos

Bonobos began as an online retailer of khakis, and from there has expanded into other non-khaki clothing items.

What do all of these names, plus Bonobos and Jet.com, which it acquired last August for $3 billion, have in common?

These new brands help Walmart improve the experience for existing customers and extend its reach to new customers, Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, told Retail Dive last month.

However, even as Bonobos had become a more conventional retailer, it had maintained its online ethos, offering generous shipping and return policies. "Adding innovators like Andy will continue to help us shape the future of Walmart, and the future of retail". Now, he says the company can be "transparent" about what will happen - that product quality, design, and customer service will remain unchanged. Walmart has since bought clothing seller ModCloth, footwear retailer Shoebuy.com and outdoor gear seller Moosejaw as it focuses on brands appealing to younger shoppers. According to Macquarie Research, Amazon already accounts for 50% of all consumer retail spending online, and with its Whole Foods acquisition Amazon seems to be aiming right for Walmart's heart, as groceries account for half of Wal-Mart's $486 billion in revenue. In a statement, Wal-Mart said the Bonobos deal is part of this broader e-commerce strategy. The deal is expected to close later this year. Company CEO and founder Andy Dunn will be soon be overseeing Walmart's digital brands. That means that brands that may want to sell through Wal-Mart have enhanced opportunities too, with options to sell through one site or another (or more), Jariwala said.

Bonobos is a menswear retailer.

Those new customers are in demographic groups that don't generally frequent Wal-Mart stores; the average Wal-Mart customer is less wealthy and quite a bit older than those typically shopping at Target and Amazon. "They each have a very distinct voice and I think you can argue that Wal-Mart doesn't have really deep penetration with any of those audiences". It's the latest and most expensive in a series of relatively small apparel acquisitions made by Walmart in the past year, including Modcloth, ShoeBuy.com, and the outdoor e-tailer Moosejaw.

In its own Facebook post reacting to the barrage of negative comments, it promised the brand wouldn't change under the new ownership.

Building up Walmart.com was the first step.