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Retail competition is at the forefront of Wall Street yet again as retailers release their earnings reports, and Jim Cramer is seeing a divide form around the industry's most powerful disruptor.
"When the book is closed on retail this quarter, we're going to have two different narratives: there are the companies that Amazon can crush and the companies that Amazon should admire or perhaps even fear, " the "Mad Money " host said.
As of Thursday, one company stood out to Cramer as the competitor Amazon should worry most about: Wal-Mart.
The discount retailer's second-quarter earnings report not only beat the Street's estimates on earnings per share and revenue, but also saw a 60 percent boost in online sales.
Wal-Mart's same-store sales, a key measure of success for retailers, ticked up as well thanks to traffic growth, a much sought-after trend at many struggling brick-and-mortar businesses.
Cramer attributed Wal-Mart's online growth to its 4,100-store network, which makes it easy for the family-owned company's 100 million weekly shoppers to pick up their goods in-store.
"You could also look at Wal-Mart's store base as 4,100 distribution centers with easy delivery for food, blunting the footprint of Amazon, which will only have a 10th of the stores that Wal-Mart has when that Whole Foods deal closes, " the "Mad Money" host said.
Doug McMillon, Wal-Mart's CEO, told Cramer exclusively on Thursday that "we're taking 140 million transactions a week [and] combining it with our exploding online business to serve customers in a seamless way, in-store and online. We will own the intersection of physical and digital shopping."
"Speaking of family, that's Wal-Mart's ace in the hole," Cramer added.
Amazon may turn to the capital markets for the money it needs in place of profits, he said, but Wal-Mart has its legacy owners, the Walton family, to provide a similar cushion that goes hand in hand with Wal-Mart's bargaining power with product suppliers.
"And there too, lies the real Achilles Heel of Amazon: the clout Walmart still has over its suppliers," the "Mad Money" host said.
Amazon is likely the biggest customer of almost every single U.S.-based consumer products company. Most of those companies' websites are hosted by Amazon Web Services, the e-commerce giant's cloud computing arm.
But those same companies risk losing Wal-Mart's business by partnering with Amazon for the cloud, and they want their products featured on the big-box retailer's shelves as much as they want them on Amazon.com, Cramer said.
"If I'm the chief technology officer of any supplier, I'm going to green-light shifting away from Amazon Web Services to the ultra-competitive Microsoft Azure or Google Web Services, " Cramer said. "That way, my CEO can go to Wal-Mart's headquarters and say, 'Hey, we know the score. We're not trading with the enemy anymore.'"
So the two giants are neck-in-neck; Amazon's Alexa steers customers towards Amazon's products, while Wal-Mart's free two-day delivery challenges Amazon Prime's membership fee, and their product prices are comparably attractive.
"Let just call it as it is: a legitimate, two-horse race with others bringing up the rear, but at least they're now at the track," Cramer said.