Stock Watch: Is Wal-Mart Next E-Commerce Giant?

The next e-commerce powerhouse might just be leading retailer Wal-Mart (Nasdaq: WMT).

MSNBC.com reported Thursday that Wal-Mart, which already is selling hundreds of products, including books, music, appliances and toys, online is working with IBM to make a major push into e-commerce. Sources told MSNBC.com that the two companies are working to relaunch Wal-Mart’s Web site.

Wal-Mart’s brand awareness will be an obvious benefit, and it seems clear that everybody from Sears and Amazon.com to Barnes & Noble to eToys will be keeping a close eye on Wal-Mart’s expansion. The new e-commerce initiative could also benefit greatly from offline promotion in Wal-Mart’s stores, but it will be interesting to see how much Wal-Mart is willing to cannibalize its department-store business to promote its online business. Shares of Wal-Mart climbed 1-1/8 to 45-1/2 on Thursday.

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