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Walmart to acquire online retailer Art.com

US grocery behemoth Walmart has announced it is looking to create an “even richer, deeper customer experience” across its home category, via the acquisition of Art.com.

The aim is to give its customers more “inspiration and choice”, according to Anthony Soohoo, senior vice president and group general manager for home at Walmart US’s eCommerce division, which is an area of the business undergoing major changes.

Ten months ago, Walmart unveiled an extension to its website that provides customers with several ways to try out new styles for the home, and it also launched 3D Virtual Shopping Tour, which allows customers to take a virtual shopping tour of a curated apartment of nearly 70 items from brands and private label offerings.

Art.com is the world’s largest online retailer in the art and wall décor category, with circa two million curated images – including a growing exclusive assortment – comprising its collection. Walmart’s expected takeover of the site and its assets will bring a range of new products under its ownership, from affordable poster prints to limited edition items.

“We plan to operate the assets of Art.com as a standalone and complementary site – and then add their wide-ranging assortment to Walmart.com, Jet.com, and Hayneedle.com,” explained Soohoo.

“This announcement is just another example of how we’re establishing Walmart.com as a speciality retail destination for the home.”

In other Walmart news this week, it was revealed the grocer has entered into an agreement with tech company Brain Corp, which will supply the retailer with its BrainOS product. A fleet of autonomous robot cleaning devices, which learn layouts and best practice as they go by using artificial intelligence techniques, will be introduced in stores.

The move builds on an existing pilot programme involving BrainOS-powered floor scrubbers in Walmart locations across the US. John Crecelius, Walmart’s vice president of central operations, said he expects to have 360 machines in stores by the end of January 2019.

One of Brain Corp’s flagship products is EMMA (Enabling Mobile Machine Automation), a prototypical showroom robot that packs sensors, cameras, 4G LTE connectivity, and routing algorithms that allow it to learn its way around a store quickly. This robot has been tested in San Diego-based grocery chain Jimbo’s.

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