Walmart this week is set to unveil a design-centric home brand dubbed Allswell, which will offer a collection of mattresses and bedding, according to a press release emailed to Retail Dive. The brand is Walmart's "first homegrown digital brand aimed to deliver an elevated assortment and increasingly convenient shopping experiences for the company’s expanding base of customers."
Allswell is led by Arlyn Davich, an entrepreneur with a decade of CEO experience, who will oversee launch, growth and operations as president, according to the release. "We heard loud and clear that people craved the ability to feel that all is well in the world – both on the days when the stars aligned and through life’s tougher moments," Davich said in a statement.
A company spokesperson declined to comment to Retail Dive on a report in the Washington Post last week, (which also revealed the Allswell plans), that Walmart is also developing an online cosmetics line patterned after hit brands like Glossier.
According to Walmart, the new mattress brand is "part of an ongoing e-commerce strategy to differentiate the assortment offered through its family of e-commerce sites," but Allswell represents a departure from its previous strategy in two respects. First, as Walmart points out, "Allswell marks Walmart’s first homegrown digital brand aimed to deliver an elevated assortment and increasingly convenient shopping experiences for the company’s expanding base of customers." Second, it's a brand that is affiliated with Walmart and not Jet.
While Moosejaw and Shoebuy feature brands that may be sold through Walmart as well as Jet and their own standalone sites, vertically integrated Modcloth and Bonobos are destined only for Jet, Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, told Retail Dive last year "because the demographics they serve are very nicely aligned."
Also last year, Jariwala disputed reports that loyalty for those brands, which have been millennial favorites, was dimming post-acquisition, and a Jet spokesperson told Retail Dive on Sunday that there has been no reluctance on the part of those customers to embrace Jet or Walmart. While neither brand so far has shown up for sale through Jet, Bonobos, for one, is focused right now on growing their existing web and guideshop business, according to the spokesperson.
The launch of an online brand through Walmart and not Jet indicates there may be a strategic shift emerging at Walmart, according to retail prophet Doug Stephens, author of "Reengineering Retail: The Future of Selling in a Post-Digital World." As disruptive online mattress startups turn to brick and mortar for growth, many have partnered with retailers with more upmarket reputations; Casper has aligned with Target and Leesa with West Elm and Pottery Barn. Like those companies, Allswell's mattresses ship in boxes.
"I find it somewhat perplexing that Walmart would build standalone web properties for bedding and makeup brands when it could simply use these new lines to augment what Jet has to offer," Stephens told Retail Dive in an email. "Let’s not forget that it hasn't even been two years since Walmart acquired Jet.com. So, I’m surprised they're not working more diligently to build awareness and equity in Jet. One has to wonder if some of the shine isn’t already coming off the Jet brand for Walmart."
Walmart has had difficulty moving upscale because it has pulled the plug on such efforts when they don't immediately show fruit, experts have previously told Retail Dive. Although Walmart's e-commerce growth remains impressive, its growth rate did decline in its fourth quarter last week.