May 13, 2021

How Walmart’s Racial-Slur Controversy Sheds Light on the Nike-Amazon Partnership

Walmart this week was compelled to address a third-party seller’s use of a racial slur in a product description, and the controversy may provide insight about the newly announced partnership between Nike Inc. and Amazon.
When rumors initially surfaced that athletic giant was mulling a wholesale-distribution deal with mega e-tailer, the response was almost as enormous as the behemoth firms themselves.
Some headlines cast the move as another sign of the times — suggesting that if Nike couldn’t survive retail’s evolution without a partnership with Amazon, then what company could?
The rapid consumer shift toward digital, coupled with Amazon’s monumental rise, is hardly anything to sneeze at. However, a Nike-Amazon partnership may not be the most relevant example of these trends.
Nike eventually confirmed that it was testing a pilot program with Amazon and that much of the goal would focus on “elevating the way the brand is presented” on the platform. As such, a more probable interpretation of the partnership surfaced: Brands whose wares are shopped around on sites by third-party sellers are hampered by a lack of brand-image control.
What’s more, that phenomenon seems to be a direct consequence of the rapid growth of digital as well as consumers’ sense of urgency around

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