Walmart to purchase Art.com assets

Art.com's vast catalog of wall art will help Walmart create a more "personalized" digital shopping experience for its home goods customers.

Walmart announced Friday that it's acquiring the assets of Art.com, the largest online retailer of art and wall decor. The retail giant did not disclose for how much it's acquiring the assets, which include Art.com's catalog, IP, trade name and US operations. The deal is expected to close early next calendar year.

Founded in 1998, Art.com boasts 2 million curated images, including a growing exclusive assortment. Walmart plans to operate the assets of Art.com as a standalone and complementary site, eventually adding the inventory to Walmart.com, Jet.com and Hayneedle.com.

The purchase aligns with Walmart's efforts to boost its digital home goods sales, which included the launch earlier this year of a digital specialty home shopping experience. As a $10B annual market in the US, Walmart said it sees art and wall décor as "fundamental to winning the home."

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"A big factor in creating that space starts with the wall," Anthony Soohoo, GM of the Home group for Walmart US eCommerce, wrote in a blog post. "When decorating, redecorating, or even just infusing some new life into a room - many times the best and lowest-priced place to start is by hanging a piece of art on the wall."

On top of that, Soohoo points out that art sales will enable Walmart to offer more "personalized experiences" for shoppers. Using tools powered by machine learning, a growing number of retailers are using the vast troves of data in their possession to give customers "personalized" experiences. Sales from Art.com, Soohoo wrote, will equip Walmart with "a better understanding of design aesthetics, color preferences, complementary pieces - like rugs, furniture, etc. - and, even insight into the size of the space" a customer is shopping for. LINK?

Facing off against Amazon, Walmart has been progressively building up its e-commerce inventory and digital capabilities. In October at its annual investment community meeting, Walmart said its fiscal 2020 e-commerce revenue growth will be about 35 percent.

The investments seem to be paying off: Last month, eMarketer said Walmart was poised to move past Apple to be the No. 3 largest online retailer.

Still, Amazon remains the overwhelming market leader. The e-commerce giant has made its own investments in home decor. For instance, the company recently launched a new augmented reality feature in the Amazon app that lets users visualize items inside their homes before making a purchase.