Walmart’s Amazon killer and a real estate startup are wooing NYC landlords

Retail behemoth is trying to reduce pain points in online shopping

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and the Latch lock (Credit: Walmart and iF)
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and the Latch lock (Credit: Walmart and iF)

This week in the clash of retail titans Walmart and Amazon: Walmart’s online shopping platform is teaming up with real estate startup Latch to make it easier for tenants in non-doorman buildings to accept packages ordered online.

The partners are teaming up to test out a program that will install Latch’s keyless entry system free of charge in lobbies at 1,000 buildings, the Wall Street Journal reported. As The Real Deal previously reported, landlords in New York are struggling to keep up with tenants’ online shopping addictions.

The hardware and software allows entry into buildings via a passcode, smart phone or smart card, and allows delivery personnel to use temporary passcodes created with to get into lobbies and drop off online purchases.

“People are ordering so many things online,” said Latch co-founder and chief executive Luke Schoenfelder. “Access is holding that back because you need to be home in order for that to happen.”

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The pilot program will initially focus on Brooklyn and Manhattan, and could reach 100,000 people. The buildings that will participate in the program have not yet been identified, though Sterling VC, the venture capital arm of the Wilpon and Katz families, is an investor in Latch and is open to the idea.

“It’s nice to test it out at a scale like this with a partner of Wal-Mart’s size and ability,” Sterling VC partner Farzam Kamel said.

Walmart has long tried, and failed, to open a location in New York City but faced pushback from lawmakers and community groups. In June it announced it was buying the men’s fashion retailer Bonobos in Nomad for $310 million.

The news came on the same day that it was reported that Amazon was buying Whole Foods for $13 billion. Both deals represent a major shakeup in a retail sector that is already in a state of transition as online shopping habits evolve. [WSJ]Rich Bockmann