For as long as I’ve covered e-retailing, the industry buzz has always centered on Amazon. Given the nearly nonstop barrage of news about the online giant, and the oversized shadow it casts over e-retailing, that isn’t surprising.

But in conversations I’ve had with e-retail professionals over the past year, I’ve noticed that suddenly Amazon is no longer the only hot topic: Wal-Mart has captured just about everyone’s attention. Wal-Mart has given those in and around the e-retailing world, plenty to talk about—from the time rumors began to percolate about the possibility that Wal-Mart might buy to the $3.3 billion it paid to acquire the flashy mass merchant to the subsequent acquisition binge it has been on ever since to the array of omnichannel initiatives it’s rolled out to the strong e-commerce results it has recently reported.

This issue’s cover story aims to cut through the noise to make sense of Wal-Mart’s plans and examine whether it can sustain the strong online momentum from its last two quarters. In short, there’s little doubt Wal-Mart has made rapid progress, but it still has work to do.

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