Walmart has undertaken quite a shift in its e-Commerce operations over the past year, with the $3.3 billion Jet.com acquisition, bringing aboard new execs and a whole new attitude for the brand. While the Jet.com acquisition would have been considered an implausible idea for the retail giant as recently as two years ago, Walmart is continuing to buck “business as usual” as it prepares to buy another major e-Commerce player: Bonobos.
The reported $300 million acquisition would be Walmart’s fourth in 2017, following the buyouts of ModCloth, Moosejaw and Shoebuy. It would be further proof that the brand is serious about diversifying its portfolio, adapting to rapidly changing customer trends and catering to a wider array of audiences.
Yet even after the earlier acquisitions, a Walmart-Bonobos combination is one of the last partnerships I could have foreseen. Price tag aside, it’s still surprising that Bonobos is so far ahead in transaction talks when it appeared to be thriving on its own after reaching profitability in 2016. But CEO Andy Dunn has hinted in the past that an acquisition was always a possibility, particularly after Unilever purchased Dollar Shave Club for $1 billion.
On the surface, the two brands couldn’t be any further apart.
Walmart basically created the modern big box experience, where everything is commoditized but nothing feels differentiated. Despite the retail giant’s flourishing digital sales, Walmart is most commonly associated with its big blue stores and seemingly endless (physical) aisles.
Bonobos, on the other hand, has created an entire brand based on a select product line, as well the premise of better-fitting menswear. There’s a brand attachment that just doesn’t exist when you shop at a Walmart store. You buy Bonobos chinos because they are Bonobos chinos, and…