Wal-Mart Tries On(line) Apparel Again

Jul 21, 2004

By George Anderson

If at first you don’t succeed…

Three years after pulling the plug on selling clothing online, Wal-Mart announced it was going to give it another go, just in time for the back-to-school shopping season.

The company’s Web site, Walmart.com, said it would offer “more than 15 apparel brands, in a variety of styles for the entire
family, including exclusive Wal-Mart brands such as George, Faded Glory, and White Stag, along with national brands including the mary-kateandashley brand, Wrangler, and Rider.
The site provides a complete assortment of fashion-forward and basic apparel for everyone – women, men, juniors, girls, and boys – to fit various lifestyles at home, work, evening,
and play. Even more, Walmart.com offers specialty sizes for men’s big and tall, women’s plus, and juniors’ plus.”

When Wal-Mart previously chose to stop selling apparel online, the company said the decision was made because of the costs associated with selling clothes over the Internet. The company now believes it has worked those issues out.

One challenge faced by all clothing retailers is product returns. Customers not happy with their purchase because of sizing problems, etc. will have the choice of returning merchandise through the U.S. Postal Service to Walmart.com or bringing it to a local store.

Moderator’s Comment: What are your thoughts on Wal-Mart getting back into selling clothing online? What will it need to do to be more successful the second
time around?

Wal-Mart’s venture back into selling clothes online comes at a time when online apparel sales are growing at a double-digit clip every year.

A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal said, even without online sales, Wal-Mart is the leading seller of basic apparel in the U.S. with approximately
one-quarter of the market.

It will be interesting to see how the company’s George clothing performs online. Recent reports suggest the brand, which has done so well in the U.K., has
yet to catch on Wal-Mart’s customers here in the U.S. The more sophisticated line of clothing may find an audience online that doesn’t shop Wal-Mart’s stores.

George Anderson – Moderator

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