Daily Insights

The Threat of the Mass Marketer

By: Sarah Shi | Aug 20, 2019

For multicategory leaders like Walmart, specializing in categories with long-tail, high-margin products requires increased inventory selection for greater search visibility.

In the past two years, Walmart acquired apparel and shoe brands and expanded its marketplace to provide greater assortments in more niche product categories, helping to cast a wider net in search results. This expansion makes Walmart a credible threat to mid- and high-end brands, as it is only second behind top-performer Zappos.com in showcase shopping ad visibility against nonbranded shoe terms (e.g., “ankle boots”) and vendor keywords (“hunter boots”).

Mass-market retailers like Walmart are not known for a wide selection of upscale merchandise. However, Walmart’s increase in apparel and shoe inventory helped boost its visibility in showcase shopping ad results against both mass and high-end products. Last year, the mega store only appeared against 3% of nonbranded shoe terms and 5% of vendor keywords, but it lacked showcase shopping ads for search results for high-end shoe keywords like “stuart weitzman boots.” This year, Walmart’s digital investments for this expanded marketplace translated to increased visibility against nonbranded and vendor shoe terms, with showcase shopping ads surfacing for 54% of nonbranded shoe terms and 38% of vendor keywords according to Gartner L2’s report on the topic.

Walmart also now surfaces showcase shopping ads for those high-end product keywords like “balenciaga sneakers” it missed last year. Furthermore, the retailer increased its showcase shopping ad visibility on nonbranded apparel keywords from 15% to 47% year over year by focusing on trends like activewear and designer clothes through its marketplace vendors. The store surfaced showcase shopping ads for keywords that it passed up on last year, like “activewear,” “adidas leggings,” “designer baby clothes” and specific subcategory high-end apparel terms like “adrianna papell dresses.”