September 21, 2011, 3:05 PM

Women artisans will get a chance to sell their wares through Walmart.com

The retail chain plans an e-commerce effort for products created mainly in the Third World.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said today that it will start selling jewelry, apparel, stationery and other products made by women from some two dozen countries , such as Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya and Thailand, via the retail chain’s Walmart.com e-commerce site. Walmart.com is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Wal-Mart will sell the items starting in spring 2012 via a dedicated page on Walmart.com. By 2016, the retailer expects to be selling some 500 items through the e-commerce site.

“The challenge for small women-owned businesses, and particularly women artisans, is that they have a fantastic product, but they may not have the size or scale to sell in our bricks-and-mortar stores,” says Leslie Dach, the retailer’s executive vice president of corporate affairs. “This commitment today gives these women access to an established set of customers on Walmart.com as well as the benefit of the company’s knowledge about customers, packaging and promotions.”

Wal-Mart is not the only major retailer to sell goods from artisans . Overstock.com Inc., No. 27 in the Top 500 Guide, in 2001 introduced Worldstock Fair Trade, where artisans from developing nations and rural areas of the United States could sell their goods.

The move to sell more globally-sourced goods via its e-commerce site also comes amid Wal-Mart’s restructuring of its global online retailing efforts, and a report from web measurement firm comScore Inc. that the chain does a relatively poor job of attracting online shoppers from outside the United States.

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