The world’s biggest retailer has united a plucky band of tech companies—including Google, Microsoft and JD.com—over a shared fear of Jeff Bezos.
Battling Amazon isn’t easy—even for the world’s largest retail chain.
Fear of Jeff Bezos helps explain why Walmart has in recent years forged alliances with Google, Microsoft, China’s JD.com and other tech players. The members of the unofficial coalition all share a common goal: preventing Amazon from ruling the digital galaxy. It’s like a movie in which a ragtag alliance faces down an all-powerful foe, only in this case the plucky rebels also happen to be some of the world’s most powerful companies.
Walmart Inc. has created a formidable e-commerce business by investing billions to hire engineers and data scientists, building automated distribution centers tailored for web orders and rolling out curbside pickup for online grocery orders at more than 2,000 stores. The retailer generated $11.5 billion in online sales last year in the U.S., and a redesigned website that better showcases apparel and home decor is expected to boost that total by 40 percent in 2018.
But Walmart knows it can no longer go it alone. Amazon.com Inc. now captures 49 percent of the U.S. e-commerce market, according to researcher EMarketer Inc., up from 43.5 percent last year. Amazon already dominates entertainment and toys and is now pushing into areas that are dear to Walmart. The acquisition of upscale grocer Whole Foods Market last year threatens a business that makes up more than half of Walmart’s U.S. sales.
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