Wal‑Mart Stores Inc.’s acquisition spree continues.
The retail giant’s subsidiary, online marketplace Jet.com, has reportedly acquired vintage apparel retailer ModCloth Inc. for an undisclosed price and may announce the deal soon. Representatives for Jet, Wal-Mart and ModCloth did not return multiple requests for comment.
Matt Nemer, managing director at investment banking firm ComCap LLC, thinks Wal-Mart made the acquisition with ModCloth’s online apparel expertise and customer base in mind. However, Wal-Mart may have a difficult time winning over ModCloth shoppers based on what he is observing on social media.
“The early reaction on social media suggests Wal-Mart/Jet will want to keep as much distance between the brands as possible,” he says. “The question for the ModCloth shopper that is attracted to their ‘inclusive’ brand message is how do they feel about shopping with Wal-Mart?”
ModCloth has a larger repeat customer base than most e-retailers. 54% of ModCloth customers in 2015 were repeat buyers, according to Top500Guide.com data. That’s significantly more than the median 32% rate for all Top 1000 retailers, however it is less than Walmart.com’s 65% repeat customer rate.
GUYS WAL-MART BOUGHT MODCLOTH DYING INSIDE I GUESS I WILL BE NAKED ALWAYS
— Holly Genovese (@HollyEvanMarie) March 15, 2017
Deleting the @ModCloth app. I can’t support you now that you are owned by Walmart,a company that is against living wages.
— magicshelle (@magicshelle) March 15, 2017advertisement
ModCloth, No. 187 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, is the second retailer acquired by Wal-Mart for Jet this year and the third company acquired by Wal-Mart overall. In January, Wal-Mart (No. 4) bought online shoe and apparel retailer ShoeBuy.com Inc. (No. 101) for $71 million to bolster Jet’s footwear offerings. A month ago, Wal-Mart acquired outdoor apparel and equipment retail chain Moosejaw (No. 261) for $51 million, though not specifically for Jet. In both instances, the ShoeBuy and MooseJaw online stores and branding have remained intact, while employees became Wal-Mart employees.
Wal-Mart acquired Jet.com for $3.3 billion in August. As part of the deal, Jet.com founder Marc Lore took over as head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce efforts.
With ModCloth, Wal-Mart acquires a 15-year-old online retailer that has increased its online sales and been through its share of turmoil. According to Top500Guide.com, ModCloth grew its online sales to an Internet Retailer-estimated $164.2 million in 2015, up 8% from $152.0 million the previous year. The retailer also has experienced multiple rounds of layoffs over the past three years, most recently in October.
Co-founder and CEO Eric Kroger resigned in January 2015 following a tumultuous stretch in which the retailer conducted two rounds of layoffs in a three-month span, first in July 2014 and then in October. Since January 2015, the retailer has been led by Matthew Kaness, a veteran of Urban Outfitters Inc. (No. 39).
ModCloth has made a number of tweaks recently in an effort to better cater to shoppers. The retailer relaunched its site last month with enhanced search functionality, a new look and responsive design aimed at improving shopping on mobile devices. The company also opened its first permanent bricks-and-mortar location late last year in Austin, Texas. ModCloth has also experimented with pop-up shops.
ModCloth has raised $78.7 million across 10 rounds of funding. The most recent round, in June 2015, was for $15 million, and venture capital firm Norwest Venture Partners led the round, according to CrunchBase. Norwest also participated in Jet’s $350 million funding round in November 2015. Norwest vice president Lisa Wu wrote last year that what made Jet so attractive to the firm was Marc Lore and the team he had assembled, and the online marketplace’s dynamic pricing model.Favorite