Will Fanatics and Walmart deal be a grand slam for both retailers?
On Tuesday, Walmart significantly expanded its online offerings of sports-licensed merchandise by creating a “Fan Shop by Fanatics” marketplace on Walmart.com.
The 10-year deal with Fanatics, the dominant player in fan merchandise, seems structured similar to last year’s creation of a Lord & Taylor marketplace that brought Tommy Bahama, Vince Camuto and other department store brands to Walmart.com. But, Fanatics secures exclusive rights to sports-licensed merchandise across the site.
At the NRF Big Show, Michael Rubin, Fanatics’ founder, hinted that the company would soon announce such a deal and said any online marketplace would benefit from its ample inventory.
Fanatics not only has access to premium jerseys from Nike and others, but in recent years has developed in-house manufacturing capabilities to support “hot market” opportunities such as being able to make and deliver “Championship” t-shirts overnight to this coming weekend’s Super Bowl fans.
The deal brings Nike, New Era, Mitchell & Ness and other brands to Walmart.com for the first time. Walmart has been seeking to expand assortments on Walmart.com not only through Lord & Taylor, but numerous digital-first acquisitions including Jet.com, ModCloth, Moosejaw and Bonobos.
In a blog entry, Eric O’Toole, general manager, sports and fitness, Walmart U.S. eCommerce, wrote, “We offer more than 75 million items on Walmart.com. And, as we continue to grow our assortment, we are also focused on adding harder-to-find specialty items. Today’s announcement of our partnership with Fanatics is part of this ongoing commitment.”
The deal brings some risks to brands such as Nike, which tentatively started selling select merchandise on Amazon.com in 2017 and Walmart’s Jet.com website last October.
Dan Neiweem, principal at the consulting firm Avionos, said in a media release that it’s important for sites such as Fanatics to be on Amazon, Google, “and, to some extent even Walmart” because search often starts on marketplaces.
He also said Fanatics’ move highlights the “de-commoditization” trend. He elaborated, “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.”
- Walmart Scores Big for Fans; Partners with Fanatics to Launch Specialty Shop Offering Sports Merchandise on Walmart.com – Walmart
- Fan Shop by Fanatics – Walmart.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see the Fanatics’ partnership with Walmart as a win-win for both retailers? What will the deal mean for Walmart’s rivals?