Walmart and Amazon are waging an escalating battle over your closet

  • Both Amazon and Walmart are beefing up their online assortment of premium clothing offerings.
  • Walmart is teaming up with Lord and Taylor and new subsidiaries, while Amazon is drastically increasing its delivery options and private labels.
  • The moves come as the war between the two giants intensifies.

Both Walmart and Amazon, the biggest ecommerce players in the US, have turned their focus to clothing as they court customers online.

Walmart on Monday announced its intention to bring Lord & Taylor's many designer brands to Walmart.com, in a move to court wealthier shoppers. The move is meant to turn Walmart.com into a "premium fashion destination," according to Denise Incandela, the head of fashion for Walmart US e-commerce, in a statement about the announcement.

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Walmart subsidiary Jet.com also just recently began selling fellow subsidiary Modcloth, and its entire array of premium-priced vintage-inspired women's clothing. It's expected to begin selling Bonobos brand, another subsidiary, soon.

7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon:

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7 shock-worthy facts about Amazon
7.5 percent of Seattle's working-age population are Amazon employees

Amazon has more than 300,000 employees worldwide, and 40,000 in Seattle alone.

As a portion of the city's working-age population — roughly 528,000 — that comes out to 7.5% of the city working at Amazon.

For perspective, if the same portion of New York City's adults worked for one company, that company would have about 488,000 locals on staff.

Amazon accounts for 43% of all online sales

Amazon used to be a way to buy books online; today, it's the default buying site for just about everything, especially for people who have Amazon Prime.

An analysis by Slice Intelligence released in February found that 43% of all US online retail sales were done through Amazon in 2016.

That's up from 33% in 2015 and 25% in 2012.

1 out of every 4 US adults has Amazon Prime.

Speaking of Amazon Prime, the company now counts approximately 63 million people among its subscriber base, or about 25% of the total US adult population.

That number may underestimate the true coverage, however, since it doesn't account for multiple adults in one household all sharing the same Prime account.

Amazon ships 1.6 million packages a day

Amazon fulfillment is a beast of its own.

A report from 2013 (the latest year for which data are available) found Amazon shipped 608 million packages that year, or 1.6 million packages a day.

As of 2015, Amazon estimated its fulfillment centers were within 20 miles of 31% of the US population, and within 20 miles of 50-65% of its core, same-day-accessible market.

That's enough cardboard to span all of West Virginia

A back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals all those packages (not including padded envelopes) yield roughly 26,400 square miles of cardboard.

The total land area of West Virginia, meanwhile, is just north of 24,000 square miles.

Given the speed of Amazon's shipments, the company could blanket the whole US in cardboard in about five months.

45,000 robots roam the floors of Amazon's warehouses

To help those shipments leave the warehouses on time, Amazon relies on a growing fleet of autonomous robots that fetch packages from their shelves and bring them to human employees.

The 45,000 robots live across 20 fulfillment centers in the US. In 2016, the company increased the fleet 50% from its prior head count of 30,000.

Amazon is more valuable than all major brick-and-mortar retailers combined

The sum total of those investments in infrastructure and supply chain management have made Amazon by far the most valuable retailer in the United States.

Amazon's $356 billion valuation is so big, it's larger than Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy's, Kohl's, JCPenney, and Sears combined.

With the recent acquisition of Whole Foods, there are no signs the retailer has any plans of slowing down.

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Amazon's initiatives include partnering with more fashion brands like Calvin Klein, Nike, Adidas, Levi's Strauss, Kate Spade and others to include as first-part offerings on their website.

A Wall Street Journal report on Thursday announced new pop-up stores in New York and Los Angeles with Calvin Klein, featuring exclusive underwear offerings, for the holiday. The stores will be equipped with Amazon Echo devices to answer questions, play music, or adjust the lighting in the dressing rooms. Amazon.com will sell the exclusive product concurrently, but other department stores will only get the new product in January.

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Earlier this year, it announced its Prime Wardrobe service, which lets customers try on clothing without purchasing it for free. It recently refined the service as it moves along in its long-term beta test.

Not all of Amazon's clothing offerings are available for Prime Wardrobe, but the company says over 1 million items are. That number certainly includes its myriad private label brands, which it has launched with greater ferocity over they ear.

The number of brands now easily numbers in the dozens. It's Lark & Ro brand was featured on Oprah's Favorite Things holiday list, while a new partnership with Drew Barrymore bore fruit in the form of the brand Dear Drew.

Amazon has also released a few sportswear brands, which is still the fastest-growing segments of clothing purchases in the US, this year.

Selling clothing is traditionally one of the most difficult things to do online, and clothing sales have moved online at a slower rate than other merchandise proportionally. Prime Wardrobe and Walmart's new Mobile Returns are designed to make clothes easier to return if they don't look in person what they appeared to be online.

Amazon is now the biggest seller of apparel and accessories in the US, according to Cowen & Co. The largest sellers, however, are lower-priced items like socks and underwear, according to OneClickRetail.

The focus on higher-priced items is clear from both brands. How customers will respond, however, is a little murkier.

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