As retailers battle inflation and other economic woes, they must identify the places that are worth big bets, and those that require more reserved strategies.
Both Walmart and Home Depot have found success in their mobile app technology, among other areas, building out digital experiences that meet the ever-evolving needs of the consumers they serve as well as the staff they employ.
Walmart is keeping value at the forefront of its approach, cognizant of the pricing hurdles consumers are experiencing as inflation drives spending higher and higher. It’s the communication vehicle that has been most influential, according to the company.
Doug McMillon, Walmart’s CEO, said during the company’s recent call with investors that as people look toward Walmart for value, he wants them to see that the experience of shopping is compelling due to new capabilities developed.
“As our app becomes more a part of daily life for our customers and members, they find that they can do so much with it, like easily build a shopping cart, schedule a time to pick up an order or have it delivered when it's convenient for them, skip the line with scan and go, or find an item in their local store,” added McMillon.
At Home Depot, the company has taken a similar approach, but focusing instead on its workforce through mobile app technology.
According to Ted Decker, chair, president, and chief executive officer of Home Depot, the company is launching a new in-aisle tasking application on its in-store mobile devices, called Sidekick, which will direct Home Depot employees toward the highest-value tasks in real time.
“The tool directs associates to key bays where on-shelf availability is low or outs exist,” said Decker during the recent earnings call. “By simplifying our operations, we can generate productivity, enhance both the customer and associate experience.
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Home Depot has been building on its highly successful Pro program. In the third quarter, the company reached a milestone, now having 100% of its appliance delivery volume managed through its market delivery operations.
This goal was part of Home Depot’s initiative to remove friction through several of its enhanced product offerings and capabilities, and has improved the customer experience and significantly increased on-time and complete deliveries.
“We feel confident that the investments across our pro ecosystem are resonating and that we continue to gain share with this important customer,” said Decker.
Other enhancements across its Pro Loyalty program include a new store mode feature that makes navigating the store easier, as well as improved fulfillment and personalization with “onboarding capabilities to help our pros run their businesses more efficiently.”
The company also recently launched its Path to Pro platform, which connects skilled tradespeople with hiring trades professionals. The proprietary platform is offered to Pro Xtra members at no cost and contains thousands of candidates.
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Fulfillment automation is at the top of the priority list for Walmart. The company has implemented its Spark Driver platform, which provides more than 10,000 pickup points and can reach 84% of all U.S. households.
The company also has larger plans to improve efficiency across its fulfillment processes. In September, Walmart opened a new fulfillment center in Illinois that modernizes the supply chain, utilizing robotics, machine learning, and automated storage to increase productivity and expedite delivery times.
As the company moves forward with this approach, it has partnered with Alert Innovation, which uses robotics and AI to fill online orders more quickly.
“We're putting the building blocks in place to deliver a powerful, mutually reinforcing ecosystem that not only benefits customers and partners, but also shareholders with more durable and diversified earnings streams,” said McMillon.
The company has a full-circle tie-in with advertising as many of its Walmart Connect partners look to Walmart for fulfillment as well. As a result, Walmart is automatically onboarding all new marketplace sellers in the U.S. onto its self-service ad platform.
“We believe this seamless integration will help both businesses scale even faster. What you see in our results is that we can run compelling stores and clubs, scale first- and third-party e-commerce businesses, and connect them together in an omnichannel fashion that saves customers and members money and time,” said McMillon.
“Our strategy unlocks growth opportunities for us and a thread that runs from digital retail to fulfillment and advertising, and opens up even more opportunities with health and wellness and financial services,” he added.
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