Following and reporting on the news isn't always the easiest job. Even the most trustworthy sources can make mistakes, and after a story is published, it sometimes takes a life of its own. Like we saw yesterday with Restaurant Brands International and Popeyes, clarifying stories are sometimes needed. And it seems Walmart is embroiled in such a situation today.
Reuters reported that Walmart planned to merge its retail and online buying teams, purchasing products for both businesses through one system, according to people familiar with the matter. The move was intended to be a part of the chain's efforts to compete with Amazon, and is expected to help apply Walmart's expertise in securing low prices for brick-and-mortar stores to its online offerings.
This report would have seemed timely: according to Business Insider, Berkshire Hathaway sold off $900 million of Walmart stock, leaving the firm with nearly no shares in Walmart. Berkshire's Warren Buffet previously acknowledged how traditional brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling in the face of competition from Amazon, noting retailers have not figured out how to compete in the e-commerce space. Walmart's plan may have helped stave off Amazon for a bit longer.
However, according to Chain Store Age, Reuters wasn't entirely correct: it reported that Walmart will not combine its online and retail buying teams. The company plans to allow the two divisions to operate independently, though it will streamline the process for store items to appear online. Walmart said in a statement:
"This is part of a continued effort to better serve customers by creating a more efficient process that accelerates how we bring the full assortment of products in stores to Walmart.com. It also allows for Walmart.com buyers to focus on expanding the online assortment."
(As a quick aside, it seems Berkshire Hathaway will be spending some of its profits from its sale of Walmart stock in Monsanto: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports the group took a new stake in the company. Berkshire acquired $846.1 million worth shares in the company in the last quarter.)