may be the king of online retail but the king of offline retail, Wal-Mart, may have's throne on its mind. Yesterday, added one million new items to its catalog thanks to the launch of the Walmart Marketplace.

What is the Walmart Marketplace? As the name suggests, it's the Walmart equivalent of the Amazon Marketplace, a program that enables third party merchants to hawk their wares on

The "select group of retailers" participating in the Walmart Marketplace includes CSN Stores, eBags and Pro Team. Walmart says that the retailers it's working with were chosen "based on their strong customer service track records and large assortments of quality brands and products" and that it plans to continue adding retailers going forward.

ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo posted a great review of Walmart Marketplace on his blog which highlights some of the similarities and differences between the Walmart Marketplace and Amazon Marketplace. Perhaps the biggest difference: the former "is much more 'closed'". That's not entirely surprising given Walmart's exacting standards for suppliers; and quality over quantity it could turn out to be a key differentiator if Walmart sees it as one.

So should be worried? It's probably a bit early for that. But the world of online retail is evolving and many of the advantages alone had in the past are being eliminated as offline retailers get more sophisticated and comfortable with the internet.

The one advantage does still retain: its name is synonymous with shopping online. Far more online consumers head to than head to As Scot Wingo points out, Internet Retailer pegged's 2008 sales at $1.7bn compared to's $20bn. But by taking pages out of's playbook, and others might just be able to close the gap.

Photo credit: oswaldo via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 1 September, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (1)



Does anyone know if Wal-Mart will be opening up its third-party program to other online merchants that it has not selected currently? My company uses amazon a lot and loves the business, might work for us. Let me know if you have the answer!

almost 9 years ago

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