How retailers stood up against Walmart’s online hardware store
A little over a week after the launch of Walmart’s new Premium Outdoor Store – a collaboration with subsidiary Moosejaw, the online outdoor retailer – Black Diamond, Deuter, Katadyn, Leki and Therm-a-Rest have removed their equipment from the site.
The saga began on Monday, August 27, when Walmart unveiled a new section of its website offering a collection of premium outdoor gear curated by Moosejaw. Showcasing products from brands like Black Diamond, Leatherman, Pelican, and Therm-a-Rest, the store marked a distinct change from Walmart’s mainstay of low-end, budget camping gear. The next day, Black Diamond issued a cease-and-desist order, directing the Arkansas-based company to remove the gearmaker’s logo and product photos. “We did not see or approve the statement Walmart released on Monday and never sold to Walmart,” Black Diamond President John Walbrecht said. a press release announcing the action, who went on to state that Black Diamond has no association with the Premium Outdoor Store.
Three days later, Deuter announced that he would be stepping down, after “a first trial arrangement” on the platform. “While we appreciate the concept of what Moosejaw is trying to accomplish with this new initiative, we have decided now is not a good time to participate,” said Bill Hartrampf, president of Deuter USA, in a statement from hurry. On the same day, Therm-a-Rest contacted Outside with news that he was also pulling his gear from the new Walmart store. “We remain nimble to change and pivot our business for our brand’s greatest success with fans, consumers and trusted business partners; hence our decision to move away from Walmart’s outdoor store, ”the company said in a statement.
Both Deuter and Katadyn say that Moosejaw started mentioning the idea of an equipment-focused online retail platform working with Walmart shortly after it was purchased by the hypermarket in 2017, and that formal conversations have started this summer at Outdoor Retailer. Hartrampf says Moosejaw presented a slideshow, presenting the new store as a closed environment within the Walmart site, with all of the high-end brands listed together. “The concept made sense,” says Hartrampf. “We would be exposing our brand in an upscale store to a new and diverse consumer group. Katadyn President Shawn Hostetter also cites the trust built over many years of working with Moosejaw and the broad reach of the new platform as the driving forces behind his decision to sign. Leki echoed this sentiment in a press release.
What differentiates Walmart’s Premium Outdoor Store from Amazon, for example, is the promise of greater oversight regarding third-party vendors allowed to sell their products on the platform. Pushed to compete with each other for the cheapest listing, which sites like Amazon show first in search results, these sellers are known to violate the minimum advertised price (MAP) that brands set for their products. products. Amazon is notoriously lax about shutting down sellers that undermine a brand’s MAP. “It’s kind of like a mole game, with sellers showing up on third-party platforms and not adhering to our minimum advertised price policies,” says Hostetter. Katadyn had worked with Moosejaw for years before Moosejaw was bought by Walmart in 2017. Moosejaw had always followed Katadyn’s MAP and promised to continue to do so in the new Walmart store. Hartrampf says it has received similar assurances.
So what happened to make these equipment companies give up so quickly? According to Rich Hill, president of the Popular outdoor alliance, many of those who signed up did so with the impression that the Premium Outdoor Store would be different from the rest of the Walmart site, and it didn’t turn out to be the case. But others, including Deuter and Katadyn, say they knew what they were getting themselves into and withdrew under pressure from specialist retail partners.
Within hours of the launch, store owners began suspending orders from businesses selling through Walmart.com. “We knew there would be reluctance on the part of some retailers,” says Hartrampf, “but it was much stronger than expected. Their main concern was the image that the Walmart name gives to the brands it offers, given its budget reputation. A high-end product listed on Walmart.com suddenly looks a little less premium. The credibility of specialty retailers relies on the perception that they offer the best products, so damage to a product’s premium status hurts. (Some respected outdoor brands, like Camp Chef, Coleman, and Sawyer, were sold on the Walmart site before the Premium Outdoor Store launched and are still available from specialty retailers like REI.)
“I wasn’t naive enough to think that all outdoor retailers would welcome the Premium Outdoor Store with open arms,” Moosejaw CEO Eoin Commerford wrote in a comment. open letter published Friday morning. “But I am surprised by the vehemence of the attacks from some of the major retailers in our industry and the threats to drop the brands that participated in them.” Commerford says that Moosejaw and Walmart’s primary goal was to promote inclusiveness by exhibiting “outdoor brands, activities and products to a wide audience of new and long-time outdoor enthusiasts, including very groups that are under-represented in our industry today ”. Walmart commented for Outside“The decision to be a part of this new experience will continue to belong to every brand, and our hope is that brands, and even other retailers, share our commitment to driving a truly inclusive outdoor industry,” but he said. declined to comment for this story.
Ultimately, Hill sees the Premium Outdoor Store as a first step in a brewing war between Amazon and Walmart. “I think the main beneficiary of this launch has been the Walmart team tasked with developing a strategy to fight Amazon,” he said. Whether or not Walmart is trying to pull some of Jeff Bezos’ business – and what the fallout might be for outdoor businesses, retailers, and customers – it’s far too early to tell. In the meantime, says Hill, “all retailers can do is walk away from brands that are embroiled in a price war between the world’s two largest retailers. “