56: The Impact of the Moosejaw/Walmart.com Announcement – Take 1

“The way this whole thing was structured is Walmart-Moosejaw might be growing their business, but I do not believe that it will grow the overall business in a meaningful way.”

– Wes Allen

EPISODE PREVIEW:

The week before Labor Day Walmart announced that its Moosejaw arm would be curating a premium outdoor section on the walmart.com platform. And…shit hit the fan. 

Black Diamond sent a very public “cease and desist” order. Specialty retailers cut orders with brands selling via the new platform. And surrounding those more drastic moves, brands and retailers set off in flurries of conversation around how they fit into to one another’s plans and strategies.   

So is Walmart genuinely increasing opportunity and inclusivity for outdoor enthusiasts, as its public statements claim? Or is it leveraging the outdoor industry’s vulnerability around expanding its audience for its own strategic end? Today, I talk with Wes Allen and we dissect what it means, what may have precipitated the move, and we even make some predictions for what’s around the corner.

GUEST PROFILES:

wes allen

Wes Allen, the Outdoor Industry Correspondent for Channel Mastery and the former President of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Wes is also the principle of Sunlight Sports, a premium specialty retailer and member of Grassroots. His iconic store is located just outside of Yellowstone National Park in Cody, Wyo.

TOPICS COVERED:

Walmart full-spectrum acquisitions, Moosejaw, Amazon, channel conflict and price parity, varied conversations around marketplace participation, brand retailer relations, outdoor vendor distribution strategies

SELECT QUOTES:

“That [always low price] message, while very productive for Walmart, is not in line with the premium position that many of our brands in the outdoor active space are trying to build.”

“I applaud anybody who wants to increase the reach of outdoor and be more inclusive in getting people from all backgrounds, ethnicities – just getting more diverse folks involved in the outdoors. It’s a very positive thing. But [in this Walmart context], I also see that as a very powerful corporate talking point.”

“This is a different conversation if we’re talking about a rollout to all 3000 or so Walmart stores that exist in North America. But what we’re really talking about is an online marketplace.”

“We can make a very safe assumption that even some of the big players in the industry, the REIs, the Amazons, name who you will, also reached out and exerted pressure that resulted in those brands that had decided to be in the platform, making the decision to immediately come off.”

“From the viewpoint of my peers in the specialty outdoor market, their most common message to brands would be, ‘We’re going to respect your decisions and you need to make the choices that are right for you at this point. But we don’t carry brands generally that are carried in Walmart or by Walmart.’”

“Another key thing here is intention and communication.” [Referring to brands and retailers around why brands have decided to be on the walmart.com platform].

“The way this whole thing was structured is Walmart-Moosejaw might be growing their business, but I do not believe that it will grow the overall business in a meaningful way.”

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