Posts

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is set to acquire two-year-old online retailer Jet.com in what appears to be the largest-ever acquisition of an ecommerce company reports Recode. This is according to multiple sources familiar with the transaction.

Walmart-Jet.com acquisition details

The deal is expected to value Jet at approximately $3 billion. Some senior Jet executives, including co-founder and CEO Marc Lore, will have incentive bonuses on top of that – Lore stands to make as much as $750 million in the deal as he owns 25%.

Lore will continue to run Jet as well as Walmart’s US ecommerce operations after the acquisition closes.

Why is Walmart buying Jet?

The Jet acquisition is acknowledgement by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon that his company needs outside help if it’s going to ever close the giant gap with Amazon.

Walmart’s $14 billion in annual ecommerce sales is a fraction of Amazon’s $99 billion and is growing slower than the industry average.

Its growth rate has decelerated for five consecutive quarters.

Jet sells more than 12 million products ranging from TVs to toys to cereal, and even milk and other fresh groceries in some markets. A little less than a third of its sales volume comes from items that Jet stores in its own warehouses and sells directly to customers, an exec recently said.

Even with Walmart acquiring the strong Jet leadership team and proprietary technology, the deal still will be viewed as a rich, if not desperate one, by some industry observers.

A version of this article appeared in Recode on August 7. Read the full version here.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is in talks to buy online discount retailer Jet.com Inc, reports Wall Street Journal. 

A deal could give Wal-Mart’s ecommerce efforts a much-needed jolt as the world’s largest retailer seeks to grow beyond its brick-and-mortar storefronts with speedy home delivery from a network of massive suburban warehouses.

Although Wal-Mart has not announced how much it would pay for the startup, it is speculated that Jet could be valued at $3 billion. This would make it Wal-Mart’s biggest acquisition since buying South African retailer, Massmart Holdings for $2.3 billion in 2o1o.

This is a sign that Wal-Mart is willing to spend big to compete with Amazon and save itself from “traditional retailer death” plaguing legacy businesses.

However, industry analysts are questioning the slightly odd decision.

“I’m struggling with the math of why you would pay this much money for this business model at this particular time,” says Bryan Gidenberg, an analyst at Kantar Retail.

Jet is barely a year old and was set on going up against Amazon itself. A part of its early growth strategy relied on taking orders for products it didn’t sell and placing orders on behalf of its customers on other sites, often selling the items below what it paid while absorbing steep shipping costs. Jet has since abandoned the practice.

Wal-Mart has scrambled to keep pace with Amazon, which overtook Wal-Mart by market capitalization a year ago and now sports a market value that is 50% larger.

Wal-Mart’s ecommerce sales reached nearly $14 billion, or 3% of its $482 billion in annual revenue last year. Amazon’s revenue was $107 billion last year, including its Web-services business.

Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon acknowledged his company’s ecommerce growth “is too slow” and that the company needed to expand the number of products sold on its site and give third parties more access to its website.
For Jet, a takeover by Wal-Mart would demonstrate the challenges of attempting to go it alone in the hypercompetitive ecommerce market. Jet has yet to prove that its unique pricing and supply chain model is sustainable.A version of this appeared in The Wall Street Journal on August 3. Read the full version here