This case won Second Prize in the 2018 John Molson MBA International Case Writing Competition, held by John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Canada.

Walmart's e-Commerce Acquisition Spree: Toward Online Success or Existential Crisis?

Walmart's e-Commerce Acquisition Spree: Toward Online Success or Existential Crisis?
Case Code: BSTR537
Case Length: 15 Pages
Period: 2016-2017
Pub Date: 2018
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (Walmart)
Industry: Retail
Countries: USA
Themes: Business Model, Growth Strategy, M&A, E-Business Strategy
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Abstract Case Intro 1 Case Intro 2 Excerpts


This case study discusses the multiple e-commerce acquisitions of Walmart (The US-based retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is popularly called Walmart), in an attempt to increase its online strength and to compete with e-commerce giant (Amazon). Walmart had been on an acquisition spree since the summer of 2016, when it bought US-based e-commerce company (Jet) for $3.3 billion. This acquisition trail started as a result of the changing retail e-commerce landscape. The significant expansion of the e-commerce sector, coupled with prospects of its sustained future growth, stirred Walmart to adapt its business model to the digital backdrop. Since then, Walmart had been acquiring several smaller e-commerce websites like Shoebuy, Moosejaw, Modcloth, and Bonobos, most of which – if not all – catered to young users.

The case also explores the Walmart-Amazon rivalry by throwing light on the growth and expansion strategies adopted by each of them. The case also analyzes the multiple reasons why Walmart decided to take up these online acquisitions. It also discusses the different challenges that Walmart might face because of its move toward online retail through these acquisitions. The move indicated that Walmart was taking strides to shift from its organic growth driven strategy toward one with its own e-commerce business segment. The question is whether this acquisition strategy will help Walmart compete with Amazon, which had made strides into physical retail with its acquisition of retail organic chain Whole Foods in 2017.


The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Identify the key motives/reasons why Companies go in for M&As
  • Understand the online acquisitions in the retail sector
  • Analyze the major criteria used to evaluate the possibility of M&As involving e-commerce companies
  • Understand the model/structure for successful M&As



Mergers and Acquisitions, Online Retail, Walmart,e-commerce, Omni-Channel Management, Business Growth Strategy, Acquisition as a growth strategy, Structure for M&A, Business Ownership, Growth Strategy

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