Denise Incandela

There’s a “major transformation” occurring at Walmart’s e-commerce platforms and it’s all about adding brands, editorial content, bigger and cleaner visuals, and strategic partnerships with celebrities and retailers.

“We’re establishing ourselves as a fashion destination across all our platforms,” Denise Incandela, senior vice president of fashion of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce sites walmart.com, Jet.com and Shoes.com, since October 2017, said in a conversation at the forum with WWD deputy managing editor Evan Clark. “We are very focused on broadening the assortment.…I think we have brought on 1,100 brands just since April.”

Incandela suggested that spirits are running high at Walmart, in the aftermath of the relaunch of walmart.com last May and the relaunch of Jet.com two weeks ago. “This is really an exciting time for us. Historically, we have been known as a consumable platform, and now we feel very passionate about servicing our customer with apparel, accessories, footwear and beauty that we know she is looking for.

“We are very focused on these big strategic initiatives,” Incandela said, highlighting EV1, the just-introduced collection in collaboration with Ellen DeGeneres, and the Lord & Taylor store on walmart.com introduced last summer. EV1 has an extensive assortment including jeans, jackets, T-shirts, footwear, sweats, socks and totes.

More strategic partnerships are coming up, Incandela said, and so are possible additions to Walmart’s web portfolio. “We are always in the acquisition mode,” she said. There has been a string of acquisitions by Walmart in recent years, including Jet.com, Bonobos, Shoes.com, Flipkart, Modcloth and Moosejaw.

As part of its relaunch, Jet.com created a localized site for New York and will be creating local sites for Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. “That platform is focused on hyper-localization of the big urban markets. If you live in New York, it will be hard to get through the city without seeing some kind of Jet advertising, whether it’s television, billboards or social media. That’s how big it will be.

“Walmart.com and Jet.com are very different platforms,” she added. “Walmart.com has [more than] 100 million unique monthly visitors. Essentially, a third of the country is visiting walmart.com every month. It has a wide array of product from fashion to home to consumables, etc., and it’s appealing to a third of the country. It’s very much focused on that busy family.

“The Jet platform is focused on a very different customer — the urban, Millennial, super cool, high household income, looking for something very different. It’s a very curated assortment — a very personalized assortment.…We have lots of great brands on all of our platforms. With Jet, it’s Nike, Birkenstock, and it goes on and on. We are creating a specialized experience for Nike.”

With walmart.com and its relaunch, “We’ve been focused on bigger images, cleaning up the site, creating a beautiful shopping experience, because whether the dress is $15 at Walmart or $200 at Jet, or $2,000 at Saks, it should look beautiful.”

Additionally, the walmart.com team has been working on editorial content. “We built an editorial team over the last six months and we’re really excited to provide what historically the luxury players have owned,” Incandela said.

“Everybody needs styling advice and direction, whether you are buying a $15 dress or whether you are buying a $200 dress. That was missing,” from walmart.com. “If you go to our fashion landing page now, we would be talking about the ‘It’ list for fall, seasonal styles and how to outfit pieces more ways,” the kind of online discussions that normally would just be found on upscale web sites such as neimanmarcus.com and Net-a-porter, Incandela said. “Historically, you haven’t seen it on accessible price points.”

To get the word out on walmart.com’s fashion initiatives, “We are disproportionately putting fashion on the homepage, e-mailing millions and millions. We know that while we service her really well in consumables, we haven’t had that offering on the fashion side. Customers are asking for it. They are searching for it and so now we are building out those capabilities.

“Our mission is to save people money so they can live better lives,” Incandela said, echoing the slogan that appears on the Walmart web site.

Incandela said consumers shopping online are gravitating to “big platforms” such as Alibaba’s Tmall, Amazon and walmart.com. “That is where the traffic is going. That’s where they are starting their searches. But we feel we are uniquely positioned. We are not just online. We have a big store presence as well. The Ellen [DeGeneres] line is being launched in both channels.” Of the 1,100 brands added since April, “most are online only, but some may be overlapping with the stores,” Incandela added.

“We are in the midst of a transformation in so many different ways. That’s the thing that energizes me so much,” she said. “We’re doing 16 different things at once — fixing the plane while we are flying it.”

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