Bonobos Lays Off Employees During Walmart’s E-Commerce Strategy Shift

On the latest episode of the E-Commerce Retail Briefing podcast:

Walmart is making moves as they shift their e-commerce strategy. After recently acquiring several digitally-native brands that have yet to be profitable, the company is cutting back. The retailer sold ModCloth and now Walmart-owned Bonobos are laying off dozens of employees this week.

  • Boll & Branch has formed a partnership with Nordstrom to add to the retailer’s newly launched Sustainable Style category. The Boll & Branch bedding selection will include its organic and Fair Trade-certified signature sheets, pillows, and throw blankets. The home goods company will be available online at Nordstrom and in select stores.
  • Toys R Us is looking to Target and its website to power e-commerce sales. The toy company relaunched its e-commerce site on Tuesday and includes product reviews, toy lists, and do-it-yourself activity ideas. When it comes to actually buying toys, shoppers are directed to product pages on Target’s website. Target will then complete transactions and fulfill products out of its inventory for Toys R Us shoppers. Partnering with Target gives the new, and still small, Toys R Us scale ahead of the holiday season.
  • Google is reportedly in talks about buying Firework, a free smartphone app for users to share 30-second videos. Acquiring the video-sharing startup could help it counter the fast-growing platform, TikTok. Google isn’t the only one moving into the short video space. TikTok’s rapid growth alarmed Facebook executives, who launched a similar app called Lasso in 2018. Snapchat has also rolled out new features similar to that of TikTok’s. According to sources, part of Google’s motivation for looking to acquire the platform is to stay ahead of the new trend. They’re reportedly considering other acquisitions in the space.

Walmart-Owned Bonobos Makes Cuts To Staff

Walmart-owned, Bonobos, is making cuts to staff. The news comes on the heels of Walmart selling its other recently acquired digitally-native brand, ModCloth. According to the Wall Street Journal, Bonobos will be laying off a few dozen employees this week. A spokesperson from the company said, “these decisions are not taken lightly, but we believe they are necessary to set the brand and business up for long term success.”

While Walmart is staying quiet, the changes make it clear a new e-commerce strategy is being set in place. The retailer acquired Bonobos for $310 million a little over two years ago. The announcement came only months after the acquisition of ModCloth, which the company just sold to Go Global Retail. Walmart is also reportedly in talks to sell its concierge service, JetBlack. They were also said to be considering selling Bonobos but opted against it. The company’s online business is reportedly facing a $1 billion loss this year.  

The new moves indicate Walmart is shifting away from its focus on growing e-commerce through acquired digitally-native brands.