In New E-Commerce Acquisitions, Walmart Is Set To Go Head To Head With Amazon

In the past year, American multinational corporation Walmart has been steadily adding to their retail empire, expanding aggressively into the e-commerce frontier. In 2016, Walmart acquired Jet.com, one of the fastest-growing e-commerce companies in the United States, for $3 billion. Since the acquisition of Jet, Walmart has set their sights on online retailers with strong, loyal consumer followings. Now the proprietor of five major online companies and a sixth acquisition in talks, along with the creation of a Silicon Valley technology incubator by the name of Store Number 8, Walmart is making it clear that the concept of “retail” as we know it is about to be dramatically altered.

Pushing to compete with Amazon, the online retailer and production studio that allows you to buy groceries and stream movies all on the same site, Walmart has set its sights on a varied number of companies. Perhaps the most controversial was Jet's acquisition of Modcloth, a feminist-identifying women’s retailer known for their body-positive clothing and diverse range of sizes. Other companies acquired by Walmart include Moosejaw, an outdoor retailer selling products from Patagonia and North Face; shoe retailer Shoebuy; Hayneedle, a furniture company; and as of press time, Walmart is in discussions to purchase men’s retailer Bonobos as well.

The rapid growth of Walmart’s new e-commerce sector will certainly require the creation of additional jobs, allowing the company to square up to Amazon’s 2017 initiative in making 100,000 US-based jobs available to workers. In a press release issued in January, Walmart claimed that “investments in the coming year will support an estimated 34,000 jobs through continued expansion and improvement in the company’s store network, as well as e-commerce services, while providing specialty training for more than 225,000 of the company’s frontline associates.” As in-store retail jobs dwindle in the face of technology and globalization, the development of more e-commerce jobs could aid workers forced out of retail.

With a brand-new executive order signed by President Trump this week, Walmart’s tech incubator could be another answer to the pressure for US-based companies to “Buy American, Hire American”. Store Number 8’s push to cultivate and analyze new retail technology could lead to even more tech-sector jobs in the US for American workers. The practice of hiring foreign tech workers has been a controversial one, with some claiming that the popular H-1B visa program utilized for high-skilled foreign tech workers takes away opportunities for many American workers, especially minority STEM graduates. However, by hiring the black and Latinx STEM graduates who are often overlooked for technology jobs, Walmart’s incubator could quickly be revered as a major influencer for technology in Silicon Valley.

To disrupt Amazon’s stronghold on the digital retail market, Walmart will have to quickly, and smoothly, integrate their new acquisitions into their already-existing brand, both online and off. They’ll also have to continue to match Amazon’s incentive of new jobs with benefits, which may be a tougher feat for a multinational that’s taken on nearly six e-commerce companies in a year. Regardless, Walmart is set to prove that through digital growth and strategy, we’re about to face a brave new world of retail in the US.

 

Words: Staley Sharples 

Amazon Recognizes The Power Of The Freelancer Economy

Amazon is tapping into the booming freelance worker economy in their ongoing creation of 5,000 work-from-home part-time jobs with an elusive perk—health and career development benefits. The online corporation set their sights on the growing workforce looking for part-time incomes to supplement their income, with the flexibility to cater to those who may be disabled and unable to travel, parents with young children who wish to work again, or college graduates living at home and figuring out their next steps. Tom Weiland, Amazon Vice President for Worldwide Customer Service, stated in n a press release, “There are lots of people who want or need a flexible job—whether they’re a military spouse, a college student, or a parent—and we’re happy to empower these talented people no matter where they happen to live.

The percentage of American workers who telecommute is steadily rising, and understandably so In 2016, it was found that 35% of Americans (55 million) were freelancers. Whether they’re working a second night job, supplementing a family income, or making their living as an independent contractor, freelancers enjoy a relatively low barrier to entry in the “work from home” job market, which makes these positions so desirable. There are a number of benefits to working from home: remote work allows employees to forgo transportation costs, and gives them the freedom and flexibility to develop their own schedule. It also creates jobs for Americans living in areas outside of major cities who struggle to find office employment. However, working from home has its challenges too: isolation, burnout, and unproductivity can all plague the home-based worker. While it serves employers well and saves them money to allow more workers to telecommute, there are costs on their side as well. To effectively work from home, an employee must be self disciplined in making sure they stay productive—or, on the other hand, don’t work themselves too hard.

However, Amazon’s recognition of freelancers in their development of these jobs sends a message to other companies, too: by recognizing a population of Americans who are actively seeking employment that reflects their lifestyle, they are stimulating the freelancer economy and benefitting a vast number of people who had previously been written out of the workforce. 

Apply for jobs on Amazon's website today—applications can be found here. 

Words: Staley Sharples