WAL-MART SHOPPING SPREE: Discount giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. snapped up four firms to bolster its tech savvy: social software firm Tasty Labs, cloud computing company OneOps, predictive intelligence player Inkiru and Web site performance tracker Torbit. The retailer also said it had doubled the number of products on walmart.com.

AMAZON’S COMPETITIVE NATURE: Brands such as Tory Burch, Nordstrom and Gap are paying Amazon.com to drive traffic to their own e-commerce sites, teeing up an awkward relationship where the e-commerce company becomes both competitor and partner. Amazon’s quest to become the commercial outlet for digital shoppers also pits it against a bigger fish: Google.

THEY ALL CHAT: The not-quite-two-year-old WeChat is becoming the next must-use tool to communicate with tech-savvy Chinese consumers. The service has roughly 300 million users.

Word is that Apple will update its iPhone offering on Sept. 10. Tech watchers are waiting to see if Apple — which many fashionistas see as a luxe brand — goes down market with a more accessibly priced version of its famous smart phone.

XIU COURTS PARTNERS: Xiu.com already has deals with Salvatore Ferragamo and eBay and is trying to convince more international brands that collaborating with a domestic e-commerce player is the way to break into the Chinese digital market. “We localize global fashion and ensure everything we sell is matching Chinese consumer preferences,” said Celine Yang, vice president of strategy for the fashion e-tailer.

Allure tapped ShopAdvisor to launch an e-commerce element for the magazine’s mobile app. The collaboration marks the first time a beauty magazine has teamed up with the platform. Readers will be able to shop the magazine’s editorial content and interactive ads.

The Luxe division of L’Oréal USA tapped video blogger Michelle Phan to launch a color cosmetics brand designed to live in cyberspace. The collection, with more than 250 stockkeeping units, is housed on a Web site featuring 70 tutorials.

AOL PATCH CUTS: AOL chief executive officer Tim Armstrong, who recently apologized for publicly firing an employee, has made his move to further trim local news venture Patch. Reports Friday said half the 1,000-person staff was being laid off.

CAPTURING MORE EYEBALLS ONLINE: The U.K. divisions of Condé Nast and Hearst Magazines saw a first-half boost from digital editions. Condé Nast said combined print and digital subscriptions to Vogue were up 2.1 percent over a year earlier, while print circulation by itself fell 2.8 percent to 200,608. At Hearst, sales of digital issues across the portfolio have grew 13 percent.

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