Wal-Mart and Hudson's Bay-owned department store Lord & Taylor just announced an interesting partnership - Lord & Taylor will start selling its catalogue of high-end fashion merchandise on Walmart.com this Spring.
Of course this deal doesn't mean that you'll see designer pants on the same page as $19.97 Wranglers. Instead, Lord & Taylor will have its own "flagship store" on Walmart.com - which essentially will be a section on Wal-Mart's website dedicated to goods sold by Lord & Taylor.
For Wal-Mart, this partnership is a way to drive traffic from customers looking for high-end items, that otherwise may not be shopping on Walmart.com.
And for Lord & Taylor the deal is also about traffic - department stores are struggling, and opening a store on Walmart.com will give them a bunch of new eyeballs (and potential shoppers) they otherwise wouldn't have gotten. It's almost like the modern day version of renting retail space on 5th Avenue in NYC. Lord & Taylor will keep their existing ecommerce site at lordandtaylor.com, so this new store is really just to attract new customers that wouldn't otherwise shop with them online.
High-end fashion has been a category notorious for being hard to sell online, especially as expensive brands have been reluctant to let sites like Amazon and Wal-Mart carry their items. Of course this doesn't mean the ecommerce giants aren't trying - Amazon just launched Prime Wardrobe and Wal-Mart recently bought fashion sites Bonobos and ModCloth.
So this digital store within a store approach is interesting, and could be the best way for for high-end fashion retailers to take advantage of the online traffic and sales being generated by sites like Amazon, without sacrificing their own brand by just listing their items in a sea of millions of alternatives.
If the deal proves to be successful look to see a lot of copycats doing the same thing - because there's certainly no shortage of department stores and brick and mortar retailers struggling for sales today.