#Walmart is acquiring stores left and right as part of its e-commerce strategy. Over the past 12 months the company has bought multiple brands—ShoeBuy, Moosejaw, and Jet—to complete its online shopping experience. All of them get to keep their own websites, but the brands are integrated in the background. Jet, the new startup that is now in Walmart’s possession, has a relationship with 2,000 merchants and has raised millions in financing for its online presence. Now it’s time for Jet to buy the online retailer #Modcloth.
Inside the hip, indie, feminist retailer
According to a recent story from Jezebel, ModCloth employees were receiving offer letters behind the scenes from Walmart on Wednesday. Not long after, the indie retailer’s CEO Matthew Kaness gathered his employees to let them know that ModCloth had been acquired by Jet. The employees’ response was understandable dismay, knowing that Jet is now owned by Walmart, who has been all over the news for underpaying their workers, preventing them from organizing, and for workplace discrimination. Meanwhile, ModCloth has been this praise-worthy, feminist, indie-spirited, smart brand that took the lead in abolishing the term “plus-sizes” in favor of providing women’s clothing in all sizes.
ModCloth was founded by two high school friends, Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger when they were in college in 2002. The two started out selling clothes they found at thrift stores, and now the company has over 350 employees in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh. The vintage-inspired online retailer associates itself with the body positive movement and celebrating diversity in fashion, rather than using the niche “plus-size” label as separate from women’s clothing. Furthermore, what this acquisition by Jet means for ModCloth’s employees is that their paychecks will soon come from Walmart.
Going against Amazon’s supremacy
E-commerce growth for Walmart is not exactly on par with industry leader Amazon, who accounts for at least half of all internet commerce growth. Walmart may be the largest retailer in the world, and it does have all the money it needs to buy multiple brands that are struggling online, but it is a few years late in the e-commerce race. ModCloth and the other brands that Walmart has acquired were all seen as facing issues of profitability in their internet businesses. Walmart has a lot of distance to cover, and relying on Jet alone is not going to cut it.