Can Walmart be “Stylish”?
In a committed effort to lose its image as a ‘basic’ clothing retailer, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, will launch its most ambitious clothing launch in years on Thursday. Copying rivals Amazon and Target, the Arkansas based chain is determined to become a destination for trendy clothing with its four new private label lines for women, children, and men. Prices will range from $5 to $30 (U.S.).
According to Walmart, this effort aims to respond to their customers’ wishes for smarter and more stylish fashions, such as ruffled items and skinny jeans. One of its new clothing lines, Time and Tru, will focus on women who want to polish their overall look; another line, Terra & Sky will provide clothing for plus-size women; their new Wonder Nation line will cater to children; and its private brand, George, will sell men’s items, but only in the U.S. This spring, Walmart’s revitalized website will focus on fashion and home design, with the goal to increase sales above 9% in 2018. Current Walmart labels, such as White Stag and Faded Glory, and George’s women’s clothing in the U.S., will be discontinued. In addition, other upgrades are being implemented, such as inspiring store displays, upgraded clothing departments, and fitting rooms. Walmart says the move is in response to customer requests for affordable stylish clothing. Essentially Walmart wants to do what Joe Fresh and Loblaws started doing 10 years ago.
Launching new clothing lines can be risky, as discounter Walmart learned in 2005. Their upscale Metro 7 collection, advertised in Vogue, failed with their customers. However, Walmart is more confident this time around as this launch started with the focus on their customers.
Walmart is hoping to emulate their main competitors, Amazon and Target, who greatly boosted their profit margins with their private label clothing brands by eliminating the middleman and keeping exclusive. Amazon is on target to become the largest U.S. clothing retailer, raising its market share from 6.6 % to 16 % by 2021.
In recent years, Walmart has been trying to change their image. They gained a negative reputation as the anti-worker company that valued profits more than anything else, and for putting mom and pop stores out of business. They have spent millions recently to rehabilitate their image, improving customer service, and adding training and education programs, plus higher salaries for their employees. In their attempts to be a good corporate citizen, they now participate in humanitarian efforts, starting with participating in clean up efforts after Hurricane Katrina. It is ironic that e-commerce and online sales sites, such as Amazon, are now being blamed for the retail apocalypse.
What do you think of Walmart’s new line?
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