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Wal-Mart, Amazon Battle For Online Retail’s Future

November 24th, 2009 11:30 admin

Hugh Pickens writes “The NY Times reports that Amazon and Wal-Mart are waging an price war for the future of online retailing that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys, and electronics. The tussle began last month over which company had the lowest prices on the most anticipated new books and DVDs this fall, but has now spread to select video game consoles, mobile phones, even to the humble Easy-Bake Oven. ‘It’s not about the prices of books and movies anymore. There is a bigger battle being fought,’ said Fiona Dias, executive vice president at GSI Commerce, which manages the Web sites of large retailers. ‘The price-sniping by Wal-Mart is part of a greater strategic plan. They are just not going to cede their business to Amazon.’ Wal-Mart, with $405 billion in sales last year, dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America in its 4,000 stores, while Amazon, with $20 billion in sales, caters mostly to affluent urbanites who would rather not push around a cart. But Amazon is expanding its slice of the retail pie at an alarming rate — its sales shot up 28 percent in the third quarter of this year; and sales in Amazon’s electronics and general merchandise business are up 44 percent. ‘We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful,’ says Dias. ‘I applaud Wal-Mart. It’s about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.’”

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