Walmart announced Tuesday (Jan. 29) that it has inked a long-term partnership with Fanatics, the sports fan brand that makes team and player merchandise and operates NFLShop.com, NBAStore.com and MLBShop.com.
In a blog post, Eric O’Toole, general manager of sports and fitness for Walmart U.S. eCommerce, said that under the deal, Fanatics will launch a new specialty shop on Walmart.com offering licensed fan gear. Beginning Tuesday (Jan. 29), Fan Shop by Fanatics will offer hundreds of thousands of items from professional sports leagues, including NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR and MLS, and top brands, including Nike, New Era, Majestic and Fanatics.
Walmart said in the press release that products include officially licensed apparel, jerseys, hats, collectibles, tailgating items and novelty products. Fanatics also has exclusive licensing rights to produce and distribute merchandise for sports leagues and events, enabling Walmart to give customers access to official fan gear for the Super Bowl.
"We offer more than 75 million items on Walmart.com. And, as we continue to grow our assortment, we are also focused on adding harder-to-find specialty items," wrote O'Toole in the blog post. "Today’s announcement of our partnership with Fanatics is part of this ongoing commitment to create unique, specialized experiences on Walmart.com that make it easier to find the items our customers (in this case, sports fans) are looking for."
The move on the part of Walmart to ink a deal with Fanatics is the latest evidence that the retailer is serious about the apparel business and denting Amazon's lead in that area. A few months back, Walmart inked a deal with Lord & Taylor in which the department store operator sells its apparel on Walmart.com. And in 2018, the retailer added Moosejaw, the outdoor apparel company, to the roster of clothing sold on its website. Walmart is going after millennials and Generation Z, aiming to be the first place consumers go to purchase everything from clothing to groceries.