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Walmart (via Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Leave no stone unturned, even if you end up in the art business.

In the mega-retailer’s ongoing quest for wholesale domination, Walmart announced last week that it will acquire Art.com for an undisclosed amount. According to a source who spoke with CNBC, the website, which bills itself as the “world’s largest online specialty retailer of high-quality wall art,” is said to have brought in more than $300 million in annual sales annually.

Reportedly, the acquisition’s cost is comparable to Walmart’s other recent e-commerce purchases, like its $3 billion bid on Jet.com in 2016. The high price of Art.com, however, may be counterbalanced by the market data and technological buildout that the digital company has to offer.

In a press release, Walmart said that it would soon upload Art.com’s database of 2 million images to its website, ranging from posters to limited-edition prints on paper, canvas, and wall décor.

“As we think about the future right now, art will be one area where we will leverage augmented reality,” Anthony Soohoo, the senior vice president of Walmart’s online home business in the US, told CNBC. According to Soohoo, 25% of Art.com’s customers use a feature on the platform called ArtView to envisage what an artwork would like on their walls before buying. Walmart expects to “leverage that expertise” about augmented reality into other categories of its business, Soohoo added.

Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s US e-commerce business, has previously expressed the company’s desire to own upwards of 40 digitally native brands. Alongside its deep dive into the art business, the company has attempted to break into the high-end market with a recent partnership with the department store Lord & Taylor.

Art.com will join the home-furnishings brand Hayneedle.com on Walmart’s roster of wall decorators, which the company says is a $10 billion market in the United States. The deal is expected to close early next year.

Zachary Small

Zachary Small was the senior writer at Hyperallergic and has written for The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Nation, The Times Literary Supplement, Artforum, and other publications. They have...

4 replies on “Walmart Is Now the Owner of the World’s Largest Art Retailer”

  1. So basically “art” is just another retail commodity — except that its producers (“artists”) generally live below the poverty line? Suicide nets anyone?

  2. What a wonderul opportunity ! Now artists can artistically design for the puppies and kittens and actually make a living and get cheap art supplies and then have enough time later to h’appily go crazy’ ! Not to mention all the SAM’s Clubs that are sitting around waiting to be turned into artist run community centers !! This is truly a new era if visionary artists will seize the day and do something positive!

  3. Apparently it was cheaper to buy art.com and thereby acquire the rights to use ArtView for other purposes, than pay people to develop their own AR View software. That is the story. Art.com itself will die a slow quiet death through neglect. It has already started by comparing it to Hayneedle as a decorator outlet.

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