Retail is Wal-Mart's way to stand out from the crowd: Macy's CEO

Macy's CEO: Benefiting from online spending

Standing apart in a crowded retail market is never easy.

But Wal-Mart's proposed $3.3 billion acquisition of would help differentiate the world's largest retailer from the competition, Macy's CEO Terry Lundgren told CNBC on Thursday.

"I think Wal-Mart's trying to figure out how to avoid getting caught in this idea of just low price," Lundgren said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

Because many of Wal-Mart's products are sold at other stores, the retailer leans on offering the lowest prices to grab consumers' attention. Jet's unique business model, which is built on the same principles but with a twist, promises to introduce younger, more affluent shoppers to Wal-Mart's base.

Its spin on e-commerce includes a smart shopping cart that adjusts prices on certain items as others are added.

Lundgren likened Wal-Mart's strategy to his company's push for exclusive merchandise that shoppers can't find elsewhere. It snags these one-offs by leaning on its scale and partnerships with vendors, Lundgren said. The company plans to add more brands and vendor shops to its stores.

Macy's on Thursday reported fiscal second-quarter sales and profits that topped Wall Street's expectations. The company also said it will shutter 100 stores to focus on its best-performing locations and the web.

Macy's generates $4.1 billion in annual online sales, according to eMarketer. The company's digital sales posted double-digit growth during the second quarter.