Walmart’s effort to sell pricey camping, hiking, and outdoor gear online hasn’t done well so far, which the Wall Street Journal said could be a sign of more challenges the retailer faces in taking on Amazon.com online.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Walmart said last week it would sell $250 Deuter hiking backpacks and $100 Leki hiking poles on its website, adding to the brands it sells via its acquisition of Moosejaw, an outdoor retailer acquired by Walmart last year. But since then, the Wall Street Journal reported that several brands — including Leki, Deuter, and Black Diamond Equipment — asked Walmart to remove them, which Walmart did. Some of the brands expressed concerns Walmart would drive the prices of their products lower. The paper reported that some Walmart rivals also told the outdoor brands they would stop selling their products if they remained on Walmart.com. “We launched, and then all hell broke loose a little bit within the outdoor industry,” Moosejaw Chief Executive Eoin Comerford said in an interview with the WSJ. “I didn’t expect the reaction to be quite so vehement.” Comerford said around one-third of the high-end outdoor brands left Walmart.com but noted Walmart has added other brands and thinks it will make up the losses within roughly two months.
Meanwhile, Shawn Hostetter, president of Katadyn North America, a seller of water-filtration systems, told the WSJ that competitors were “frustrated” by the brand’s decision, noting that some outdoor stores said they would drop the products over the placement on Walmart.com. “We made a decision that this time is not the right time to be on [Walmart.com],” Hostetter said in the report. The WSJ noted that the issue underscores the pressures retailers and brands face as they try to capitalize on and adjust to the surge of internet shopping. Comerford told the paper that the negative reaction from retailers demonstrates how the outdoor gear industry is being shortsighted. He said over the long haul fighting online sales isn’t going to work since consumers already expect products to be available online.