Walmart on Monday launched a new "Premium Outdoor Store curated by Moosejaw," a web page on walmart.com where outdoor products from the likes of Craghoppers, Deuter, First Ascent by Eddie Bauer, Gramicci, Jack Wolfskin, KLYMIT, LEKI, Stonewear and Tentsile. It will also carry the full range of Moosejaw-branded gear, according to a company blog post from Eoin Comerford, general manager of Outdoor, Walmart U.S. e-commerce and CEO of Moosejaw.
The retail giant acquired Moosejaw a little over a year ago for $51 million in cash, which the brand said has helped scale its business, according to Comerford. "Walmart's scale has enabled us to offer free two-day shipping on orders over $49, to invest in technology improvements to the Moosejaw site, and to enhance our rewards program, resulting in a 50 percent increase in redemption rate," he wrote.
"The goal is to provide a destination for outdoor enthusiasts," according to the post. Much of the assortment sold through the page, which sports the cleaner design recently unveiled by Walmart for its furniture and other merchandise, will be fulfilled by Moosejaw, Comerford said.
Moosejaw, founded in 1992, carries apparel and gear from more than 400 outdoor brands including Patagonia, The North Face, Marmot and Arc'teryx. While primarily focused on e-commerce, the company also operates 10 physical stores across the Midwest. Walmart's acquisition of Moosejaw came amid a slew of such deals, which had Walmart also taking over vintage-inspired online women's apparel site Modcloth, menswear site Bonobos for $310 million and Canadian footwear e-retailer Shoebuy, after buying Jet in 2016 for $3 billion.
A close association with Walmart is a mixed bag for such brands, because they enjoy loyalty from younger, wealthier shoppers who don't necessarily look favorably on Walmart's corporate reputation, and might expect prices to come down, observers have warned. The average Walmart customer is less wealthy and quite a bit older than those typically shopping at young brands like Modcloth or Bonobos, as well as the average Target or Amazon shopper.
Walmart has had difficulty in the past moving beyond that core base, but it has built a formidable distribution network and has the deep pockets to help these young companies scale. To avoid such issues for Modcloth and Bonobos, Walmart last year said those brands would be sold only through Jet. But Moosejaw was always a different story, a Walmart spokesperson told Retail Dive last year.
Comerford has run Walmart's outdoor e-commerce vertical since the acquisition, and the decision to sell Moosejaw on Walmart.com, as opposed to Jet, could indicate that Walmart is trying to give its own site a younger makeover as well, rather than acquiring younger companies only to support Jet's growth.
The company also said last year that the acquisitions would help it build expertise in specialty categories — something the new page hopes to accomplish through a curation model, which aims for a market that is seeing pockets of growth.
While U.S. outdoor retail sales fell 4% to $18.9 billion in the 12 months ending this past April, according to global information company The NPD Group, outerwear performed especially well. The largest slice of the outdoor category, outerwear grew by 3% to $3 billion, according to NPD. Within that, tops grew 4%, driven mostly by jacket and vest sales. Other promising areas are in packs, outerwear and camping-related equipment and accessories. Adaptable products associated with travel, and others tied to replenishment, are "bright spots" in the market, according to a blog post from Matt Powell, NPD Group vice president and senior industry advisor.