Walmart Partners With Fanatics to Sell Sports Merchandise on its Site
Walmart has partnered with sports apparel marketplace Fanatics to sell NFL jerseys, NBA T-shirts and other sports-related merchandise on Walmart.com. The long-term partnership will make thousands of items from Fanatics available on Walmart.com, including merchandise from brands like Nike and New Era. That includes licensed apparel, jerseys, hats and tailgating goods. Fanatics will now be the exclusive provider of all licensed sports merchandise on Walmart.com. Speaking earlier this month at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in New York City, Fanatics founder Michael Rubin hinted the company would begin selling on another online marketplace. That marketplace will be Walmart, not Amazon.com.
Total Retail's Take: This is another example of Walmart's continued efforts to grow its e-commerce business, mostly through partnerships with or acquisitions of apparel brands and digital natives (e.g., Lord & Taylor, ModCloth, Bonobos, Eloquii). The traditional brick-and-mortar retailer is intent at taking e-commerce market share from its chief rival, Amazon, and it's beginning to make progress. Adding Fanatics merchandise to its product assortment solidifies Walmart.com's place as a go-to destination for online shoppers, particularly millennial and Gen Z consumers, who traditionally haven't shopped the retailer's store locations.
And what does the partnership mean for Fanatics? Dan Neiweem, co-founder and principal of Avionos, a digital commerce and marketing solutions provider, offered this take: "Fanatics’ move to sell sports apparel on Walmart proves the importance for retailers to meet their customers where and when they're engaged. As marketplaces like Amazon, Google, and, to some extent even Walmart, continue to be the first stop for consumers searching for particular items, it's critical for retailers to include them in their digital strategy, especially around hot retail times like the Super Bowl. While sites like Walmart and Amazon give brands less control over their product, it puts one of the largest makers and sellers of licensed sports apparel in front of a larger audience, with logistics that meet consumer demands for seamless online shopping experiences and fast shipping. The move also highlights the trend of de-commoditization in retail today. Sports apparel has been historically hard to come by on marketplaces, but Fanatics is realizing that it needs to expand its reach beyond just sport sites like NFL.com and get its products in front of shoppers who are browsing for merchandise on more general retail sites.”
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.