Walmart.com (WMT) is close to landing a deal to give department store Lord & Taylor dedicated space on its web site according to the Wall Street Journal, a move that could presage the retailer offering itself to other brands as an alternative to Amazon.com. (AMZN) for showcasing their wares.
According to the Journal report, which cited a person familiar with the matter, the deal would be a first step in creating an online mall with Walmart.com as its front door. Other brands in the mall could include men’s clothing store Bonobos and online retailer Jet.com, both of which were part of a shopping spree of e-commerce companies by Walmart in the last 15 months.
Representatives for Walmart and Lord & Taylor (owned by Hudson’s Bay Co (HBC)) each declined to comment on the report to Fortune.
Walmart has this year also brought such small online brands as Moosejaw, Bonobos and ShoeBuy, and made clear the acquisitions would likely continue under the leadership of Marc Lore, the head of Walmart U.S.’ digital business. Walmart recently tapped former Saks executive Denise Incandela to head its fashion business for the U.S. e-commerce division.
These efforts come as Amazon continues to go after the fashion brands- earlier this year Nike (NKE) finally agreed to sell some products directly via Amazon, while a number of retailers such as Gap Inc (GPS) have said they’d be open to the idea. Bloomberg last week reported Amazon was looking at launching its own line of athletic wear akin to Lululemon Athletica. (LULU)
An online Walmart mall would cement the company’s position as an alternative to Amazon, though Walmart reminds far behind its rival and there remains some stigma for higher end brands around Walmart.
As for Lord & Taylor, the extra boost would be welcome: comparable sales at HBC’s department store group, which includes Lord & Taylor and Hudon’s Bay, fell last quarter, and traffic on its web site is modest. According to the Journal, customers might be able to pick up a Lord & Taylor order at a Walmart.