Walmart Overtakes Apple to Become Third Largest Online Retailer in the U.S.

Apple has ceded its position to Walmart as the third largest online retailer in the U.S., according to a new report out this week (via TechCrunch).

Research provider eMarketer Retail calculates that Walmart is set to capture 4 percent of all online retail spending in 2018, up from 3.3 percent the previous year, while Apple will claim a 3.9 percent share, up from 3.8 percent in 2017.


Walmart, which includes Sam's Club and Jet.com, will see its sales total $20.91 billion by the end of the year, thanks to a 39.4 percent increase in e-commerce. In contrast, Apple's online sales will grow by 18 percent this year, a slowdown attributed to declining domestic smartphone sales.
Importantly, Walmart has one of the fastest growing ecommerce businesses. This year, its online sales will grow 39.4%. Wayfair, an online-only retailer, beats it slightly with a 40.1% growth rate. Meanwhile, Apple will grow just over 18% this year—less than last year— as domestic sales for smartphones and other consumer electronic devices begin to slow down. Its ecommerce share will remain virtually unchanged at 3.9% this year.
Both companies still trail first-placed Amazon, which is set to command a whopping 48 percent share of all e-commerce sales, up from 43.1 percent the previous year. Amazon will take in more than $252.10 billion domestically this year, according to eMarketer. eBay meanwhile remains in second place, with a 7.2 percent share of all online retail sales, down from 7.6 percent.


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Walmart Gets Into eBooks With Launch of New iOS App, Reveals $9.99/Month Audiobook Service

Walmart today announced that it has partnered with Rakuten Kobo to launch its own dedicated eBooks platform, simply called Walmart eBooks. The service will be available as an iOS and Android application, as well as on Kobo's eReaders, and function similarly to rival eBook services from Apple and Amazon.

"More than six million" eBooks will be up for purchase on Walmart's site, and once you find your next book you can choose the "eBook" option, click "Buy", checkout, and find the book in any app or eReader synced to your Walmart account. It appears that you can't buy books directly from the iOS app, and can only download a sample of each novel to read.


In stores, Walmart will also debut "digital book cards" of nearly 40 novels, which will provide codes that you can then go home and redeem to save the eBook on your devices. The partnership is also introducing Kobo eReaders on Walmart.com and in 1,000 Walmart retail stores, starting at $99.99 with the Kobo Aura.
Summer is almost over, which means there are only a few more weeks left to soak up the sun and enjoy one of the beach reads all of your friends have been talking about. Today, we’re making it easier than ever to check out the latest new releases with the launch of Walmart eBooks by Rakuten Kobo, Walmart’s partnership with Kobo to offer an all-new digital books catalog in stores and online.

Walmart eBooks will complement our vast physical book assortment and offer customers a comprehensive digital book solution, introducing an entirely new category that hasn’t been previously available at Walmart.
The free Walmart eBooks app is available to download today from the iOS App Store [Direct Link], and will act as a hub for Walmart's new initiative, collecting your eBooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and children's books on iPhone and iPad. Features include resizable text, a Night Mode, screen orientation lock, automatic bookmarks, bookmark syncing across devices, free book previews, and more.

The app provides "Awards" for accomplishing certain literary tasks, such as finishing a certain number of books, highlighting quotes, sharing a passage on social media, and more. The app will also track your reading stats and library activity, showing the percentage complete of the current book you're reading, the amount of time you've spent reading the book, and number of pages turned. Additionally, Walmart eBooks will track the total hours you spend reading, hours per book, pages per hour, pages per session, and more.

There's also a new audiobook subscription service that will let customers subscribe for $9.99 per month and gain access to one audiobook every month. Comparatively, Amazon's Audible service offers credit for one audiobook every month at $14.95 per month. Customers who sign up online will also get $10 off their first a la carte audiobook or eBook, and the audiobook service includes a 30-day free trial.

Walmart's entry into the eBook market comes eight years after Apple announced iBooks alongside the iPad in 2010, and just over ten years after Amazon's original Kindle launched in the United States alongside the Kindle eBooks store.

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Unlike Costco, Walmart Has ‘No Plans’ to Accept Apple Pay

Costco, the world's second largest retailer behind Walmart, recently confirmed that it now accepts Apple Pay and other contactless payment methods at all of its 750 warehouse locations in the United States.


Walmart appears to be unfettered by the move, however, as it remains committed to its own Walmart Pay platform in the United States.

"Walmart Pay is the exclusive form of mobile payment accepted at Walmart and we have no plans for that to change," said Walmart spokesperson Erin Hulliberger, in a statement provided to MacRumors today.

Walmart Pay, built into the Walmart app for iOS and Android, works at any checkout lane with any major credit, debit, pre-paid, or Walmart gift card. To use it, a customer must tap on Walmart Pay and scan the QR code displayed at the checkout. An electronic receipt is automatically sent to the app.


Walmart was originally committed to the Merchant Customer Exchange consortium and its payments solution CurrentC, which was later postponed indefinitely, before launching Walmart Pay in 2015. As of July 2016, Walmart has rolled out Walmart Pay to some 4,600 of its locations in all 50 states.

In late 2015, Walmart's senior vice president of services Daniel Eckert said Walmart Pay allows "for integration of other mobile wallets in the future," which provided hope that the big-box chain may eventually accept Apple Pay and other contactless payments, but nearly three years later, that has yet to happen.

Walmart's resistance to Apple Pay continues despite many other large retailers, including Best Buy, Rite Aid, and now Costco, reversing course and accepting the payments solution in stores. Apple recently confirmed that pharmacy chain CVS and 7-Eleven convenience stores will also accept Apple Pay starting later this year.

Last year, rival big-box chain Target likewise said it had "no plans" to make Apple Pay available in its stores, despite accepting it as a payment method in its app. Instead, Target launched a barcode-based solution.

Apple Pay launched in the United States in October 2014, providing tap-to-pay functionality with a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch after setting up a supported credit or debit card in the Wallet app. Apple Pay is now available in more than 20 countries, and is set to launch in Germany later this year.

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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Walmart Subsidiary Jet.com Becomes Official Apple Authorized Reseller

Jet.com today became an Apple Authorized Reseller, which allows the Walmart-owned marketplace to sell brand-new Apple products like the iPad, MacBook, Apple Watch Series 3, and much more (via Business Insider). In terms of prices, Jet isn't offering many notable discounts on Apple's devices, with most products -- like Beats headphones and 2018 iPad -- matching the original retail prices at Apple.com.


However, Jet's entry into the Apple Authorized Reseller program comes with an offer of up to $200 off when you buy select Apple products and accessories together. The bundles are pre-made by Jet, and offer combos like a MacBook Pro (2.3GHz, 8GB RAM, 128GB HD), Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones, and Magic Mouse 2 for $1,577.82, down from $1,727.95. One bundle climbs to $300 off a 15-inch MacBook Pro (2.9 GHz, 16GB RAM, 512GB HD) with the same accessories added in for $2,927.68, down from $3,227.95.

Apple Watch Series 3 models are bundled with PowerBeats3 Wireless Headphones, with offers like the 38mm GPS Aluminum Apple Watch and Powerbeats3 priced at $478.76, down from $528.95. Even with the bundle discount, it would still be cheaper to purchase the Apple Watch Series 3 and Powerbeats3 separately at places like Best Buy, where they are currently discounted to $279.00 and $119.99, respectively. All of Jet's bundle prices will last through May 23.

There are a handful of featured Apple deals matching discounts at other places, like the Apple Watch Series 1 for $149.00 in 38mm Aluminum and $179.00 in 42mm Aluminum, similar to the current prices at Jet's parent company Walmart. An iPad mini 4 (128GB) discount to $299.99 matches Best Buy and Walmart's current price, while a sale on the 5th generation iPad (32GB) also matches Walmart's price of $249.00, while beating B&H Photo ($269) and Best Buy ($314).

When ordering from Jet, the retailer offers 2-day delivery on thousands of items, and free shipping on orders over $35. Besides electronics, Jet features a wide variety of products, from groceries to household cleaners, patio and garden furniture, small appliances, and more. Jet launched in 2015, and in 2016 Walmart acquired the company and it became a subsidiary of Walmart later that year.


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Walmart Pay ‘Close to Surpassing’ Apple Pay in U.S. Mobile Payments Usage

Walmart announced "Walmart Pay" in December of 2015, bundling its mobile payment solution directly into the Walmart app for iOS and Android devices and entering the market one year after Apple's own Apple Pay launched in 2014. Now available nationwide in 4,774 Walmart stores, Walmart Pay is "close to surpassing" Apple Pay in terms of mobile payments usage in the United States (via Bloomberg).

According to Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of Walmart services and digital acceleration, Walmart Pay is enrolling "tens of thousands of new users a day," and has seen a steady growth over the past few months. Two-thirds of those who try it use it again within twenty-one days. These statistics give Eckert confidence that Walmart Pay will soon beat Apple Pay in the U.S., "in terms of use by shoppers in stores where they're accepted."

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s app is close to surpassing Apple Pay in usage for mobile payments in the U.S., giving the world’s largest retailer even more clout as a growing number of people shop with their smartphones.

“If daily enrollments don’t slow down, I think that’s pretty well in the cards shortly,” said Eckert, senior vice president for services and digital acceleration. “I would have to imagine we are getting pretty close.”
Market researcher Richard Crone predicted that Walmart Pay will grow bigger than Apple Pay in active U.S. users (who use the mobile wallets for at least two transactions per month) by the end of 2018. Walmart and Apple reportedly held discussions in early 2016 that centered upon incorporating Apple Pay into the Walmart iOS app, but fell through because of the "difficulty of blending the technology underpinning each company's approach."

Walmart is said to have begun gaining ground on Apple earlier in 2017, when 5.1 percent of Walmart shoppers said they used Walmart Pay this past June, just below the 5.5 percent of iPhone users who said the same at locations that accept Apple Pay. In terms of other competitors, Walmart Pay's adoption rate is "higher than Samsung Pay and Android Pay combined." One analyst pointed out this is likely because Walmart owns and controls the mobile wallet software and "can make quick changes."

Chart via Bloomberg
“Apple Pay’s road is much more difficult than Wal-Mart’s is,” Brendan Miller, an analyst at Forrester Research, said in a phone interview. “It means that Wal-Mart can make quicker changes, they can move faster in many respects than Apple Pay.” Forrester’s survey of 58,000 online consumers in the first half of 2017 found that 7 percent of them used Apple Pay in the past three months, while 6 percent used Walmart Pay.
Although the services are similar in their payment goals, there are a few differences between Walmart Pay and Apple Pay. Walmart's mobile wallet presents users with a barcode that has to be scanned to complete a transaction, unlike Apple Pay's NFC tap-based system. Walmart Pay also incorporates all of a user's in-store offers, promotions, rewards, and gift card balances in one place, which Apple Pay is still inconsistent in supporting for many stores.

Despite their close rivalry in the mobile wallet space, Walmart is reportedly "more interested" in directly competing with Amazon than Apple. Over the past year, Amazon has been expanding quickly in the grocery space with its various test projects like Amazon Go and its acquisition of Whole Foods. Walmart said it will continue focusing on expanding the features of Walmart Pay as more competition emerges, and according to Crone the debut of the software has provided a solid launchpad for the company's future: "They flawlessly deployed the system, and it works."

Related Roundup: Apple Pay

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