Confirmed: Walmart has acquired womenswear site ModCloth
Some more consolidation in the world of online fashion and e-commerce. Today Walmartannounced that it has acquired ModCloth, a womenswear retailer that focuses on a younger, progressive demographic and a healthier range of sizes beyond the too-often-emphasized tall, rail-thin look. Today’s news confirms reports on the acquisition from us and others earlier this week.
Earlier reports said Jet.com, a Walmart subsidiary, led the acquisition. Walmart’s statement doesn’t note this fact, but a note from Susan Koger, ModCloth’s co-founder, does mention Jet.com: “I am excited to announce that we are joining the Jet.com and Walmart family,” said writes in a blog post.
Walmart and Koger both note that the ModCloth team will continue to operate its site and store as a standalone and complementary brand to its other e-commerce sites. In addition, ModCloth CEO Matthew Kaness, his executive team, and ModCloth’s over 300 employees will continue to be based in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and will join Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce retail organization, the company said.
The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, beyond Walmart telling us it was an all-cash acquisition that was “along the same lines” as its two previous deals for ShoeBuy ($70m) and Moosejaw ($51m).
As we noted in our earlier reporting, more than one source very close to the deal told us that it’s no more than between $50 million and $75 million, and Walmart’s “ballpark” figure appears to confirm this.
This is not a great outcome for the startup, which had raised $78 million from investors that included Norwest Venture Partners, Floodgate, First Round, and Accel Partners. Notably, Norwest and Accel had also backed Jet.com, which Walmart acquired in 2016 for $3 billion.
As with its Jet.com acquisition, the strategy for Walmart is to buy into more online brands that will help it expand its reach into new demographics. In this case, it wants to better target a younger and hipper clientele that might not have previously shopped with Walmart before, and also a deeper move into apparel.
Other purchases in that vein have included outdoor retailer Moosejaw for $51 million in February 2017.
Walmart was attracted to ModCloth for several reasons, it says, including its strong social media presence, highly engaged community, and the way its brand has developed a reputation for inclusiveness – ranging from body positivity to lifestyle inclusiveness to size diversity.
Walmart’s Jet.com, originally established as a soup-to-nuts Amazon competitor, has also made acquisitions to expand in lifestyle and fashion: it acquired home and lifestyle online store Hayneedle in March 2016, and Zappos-style shoe retailer Shoebuy for $70 million from IAC earlier this year.
Walmart today is the world’s biggest retailer, but online-only Amazon is catching up, and so this is driving Walmart to push harder into digital, both to follow today’s shopping habits as well as to help secure customers in the future. There’s also the presence of Target, another huge physical retailer that has built a big business in apparel.
Within that, fashion and apparel have become key battlegrounds for the two rivals. Amazon itself has been aggressively expanding in fashion, looking to buy a number of companies and also build out its own operations organically.