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Wal-Mart is eyeing Amazon enviously, and trying to step up its game to compete. A Wal-Mart exec told the Wall Street Journal (paywalled; circumvent with Google News) that Wal-Mart was going to be able to match Amazon’s range of products and ability to ship fast “within two years.”

"Wal-Mart was the Internet before the Internet came along," [Wal-Mart global e-commerce CEO Neil] Ashe said. "Value, access, transparency and efficiency are what the Internet asks of companies to survive. And the ethos of our company is very aligned with what customers are asking us to do."

"We don’t have to change what Wal-Mart is, we just have to ask it to it in a different way."

(Which is funny, since the Huffington Post wants to remind you that Amazon is basically just Wal-Mart anyway.)

So, Wal-Mart will be building out more distribution centers so that in two years it will be where Amazon is now. (Does that include an equivalent subscription-for-fast-delivery service to Amazon Prime?) What I want to know is, where will Amazon be then? With programs like seven-day delivery (in some areas), storage lockers, and even (eventually) deliveries by drone, Amazon isn’t standing still for anyone. Amazon may only have about 2/3 the market cap of Wal-Mart now, but then Wal-Mart’s had a lot longer to build it up than Amazon has.

The biggest advantage Wal-Mart has over Amazon is that it has physical stores where people can pick up stuff. Where will it be if Amazon decides it needs to compete on that basis too? On the other hand, once people start having to pay sales tax to Amazon in more locations, Amazon will lose one of its non-physical advantages over Wal-Mart (which has to charge them everywhere since it has stores everywhere).

And if Wal-Mart really wants to compete with Amazon, is it going to start selling e-books? It already sells digital music, and it stopped selling the Amazon Kindle in 2012…

 
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