By Nat Levy.
Walmart has invested heavily in e-commerce over the last year, most notably its $3.3 billion acquisition of Amazon competitor Jet.com, and it appears to be paying off.
In its fourth quarter and year-end earnings report Tuesday, Walmart said online sales increased 29 percent in the U.S. and 15.5 percent globally. Walmart does not release dollar figures for e-commerce sales.
“We’re moving with speed to become more of a digital enterprise and better serve customers,” Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart said in a statement.
Walmart has become the second largest online retailer by revenue and among the top three by traffic, McMillon said on the company’s fourth quarter earnings call. A big part of that growth is the availability of more items. Under the leadership of Jet CEO Marc Lore, Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce division more than quadrupled the number of items available for purchase online from the start of the year to more than 35 million.
Walmart hasn’t been able to unseat Amazon, but it has kept the e-commerce giant on its toes. It beat Amazon to the drive-up grocery market, and its service, Pickup Today, grew 27 percent over the holiday season compared to 2015, Walmart’s CFO Brett Biggs said on the earnings call. At the end of January, Walmart introduced free two-day shipping on millions of items for orders over $35. Amazon this week lowered the threshold of purchases eligible for free shipping from $50 to $35, though those orders ship in five to eight days rather than two.
Throughout the year, Walmart also acquired ShoeBuy and Moosejaw and gained control of Hayneedle through the Jet purchase, giving the company more expertise and availability in high-end segments like shoes, outdoor gear and furniture.
Walmart appears poised to continue its competition with Amazon, and the company’s executives indicated they plan to invest more time and resources into online retail.
“Looking ahead, you’ll continue to see us make investments in e-commerce to drive traffic and improve the customer value proposition. We’re excited about the things we’re doing, the speed at which we’re doing them, and the work we still have to do,” Biggs said.