Walmart on Thursday unveiled a new online baby department, with six curated collections of nursery decor, including Wanderlust, Boho Chic and Mid-Century Modern. The collections include designs for boy, girl or gender-neutral nurseries.
All told, the revamp has added more than 30,000 new items for nursing, diaper changing, closet storage, car seats and other baby care necessities, according to a blog post from Lauren Uppington, vice president and general manager of the baby unit at Walmart's e-commerce arm.
The online revamp for this segment follows the retail giant's efforts to create a new in-store experience in the baby department in more than 2,000 U.S. stores, Uppington said. She added that Walmart is adding nursery department now because summer and early fall have historically been when most babies are born.
The baby segment has grown in importance as millennials have increasingly become parents, bringing their shopping savvy and design preferences into new nurseries.
The baby play at Target was in focus for Cowen & Co. analysts earlier this year when they called out the mass merchant as "hitting its retail stride." Amazon has begun to dominate in sales of basic essentials like baby wipes and, once again, diapers. But Walmart and Target appear to be taking a well-rounded approach, selling replenishment items as well as bigger ticket one-offs like cribs and carriers.
Such moves come on the heels of the demise of Babies R Us, the highly profitable Toys R Us business unit that analysts say was what kept Toys R Us afloat for many years. Even before the liquidation of Toys R Us, the company's baby unit had gone into steep decline, likely from pricing pressure at mass retailers and Amazon.
Earlier this year then-Toys R Us CEO Dave Brandon told employees, just before announcing the wind down of U.S. operations, that results at Babies R Us had "shown degradation in margin continuously even though we were told by customers that our prices were too high." Market share and sales were "plummeting," Brandon added. "We came to the conclusion it was a very hard category for us to compete in."
Now, with Babies R Us shutting its doors, retailers are scrambling to pick up those pieces.