Walmart continues to invest heavily both in-store and out to redefine the shopping experience and blur the distinction between digital and physical retailing.
As the world’s largest retailer continues its fight with Amazon for consumers’ hearts, minds and wallets, the customer ultimately wins ― new solutions provide a seamless path to purchase and bring a new level of excitement to the shopping experience.
Over the past year or so Walmart’s critical investments have begun to pay dividends, as the capability gap between Amazon and Walmart continues to shrink. In-store, Walmart posted a modest 1.8% comp growth in Q2, but as many retailers struggle to keep their stores relevant in the digital age any sales increase at the store level must be meet with open arms.
“The U.S. store team has done a great job staying focused on providing a fast and easy customer experience while managing expenses and inventory,” said president and CEO Douglas McMillon on a recent earnings call with analysts. “Customers are responding to the improvements we’re making to deliver a seamless shopping experience that saves them time and money and that’s exciting to see.”
On the digital side of the house, Walmart reported a massive gross merchandise value (GMV) increase (67%) in U.S. e-commerce. The 67% bump in GMV does include the gains Walmart has enjoyed from recent acquisitions ― Moosejaw, Shoebuy and Bonobos ― but is nonetheless significant and noteworthy.
“The majority of this growth was organic through walmart.com as customers are finding a broader assortment and more options to receive what they want at their convenience,” McMillon said. In addition, the CEO took a quick shot at rival Amazon saying: “They love not having to pay a membership fee to get Walmart’s free two-day shipping on millions of items.”
As Walmart looks to continue its growth trend the massive retailer is focused on all aspects of the business, investing heavily in in-store, online and supply chain to ensure that it remains an industry leader in both digital and physical sales. Below is a quick look at the key technologies, strategies and results that are defining the three key sectors of Walmart’s business.
- Completed the remodels of 283 stores globally.
- In Q3, Walmart’s Grocery business delivered the strongest quarterly comp sales performance in five years.
- The retailer continues to invest in associate training designed to prepare associates for both their current roles and potential promotion into roles with greater responsibility and pay. Walmart is currently operating 175 training academies and plans to have over 200 in operation by year’s end.
- The retailer’s smartphone enabled checkout, dubbed Scan & Go has be a rousing success at Sam’s Club and will be expanded within Walmart this year.
- Walmart has added some user-friendly back-to-school technology to allow for the easy ordering of district mandated school supplies. “Our dedicated back-to-school destination on walmart.com enables customers to shop school supply lists for more than a million classrooms across the United States,” said McMillon. “They can find their own list by simply entering their zip code and quickly adding all the items from the school list to their basket. Then, they can choose whether to pick up the items at their local store or ship them to their home.”
- Expanded its online grocery service to include more than 900 locations.
- Walmart’s recently released Easy Reorder e-commerce tool grants shoppers visibility to their past in-store and digital purchases and allows them to seamless reorder them in seconds.
- The retailer now offers over 67 million SKUs on walmart.com.
- Walmart continues to look for ways to get orders in customers’ hands as quick as possible and lessening the last mile of delivery by utilizing its associates for delivery and deploying next-gen pickup towers in-store. “We’re testing associate delivery of walmart.com orders in a few stores,” McMillon said. “And by the end of the year, we’ll have approximately 100 automated pickup towers in stores across the U.S., where customers can pick up their orders within a matter of minutes.”
- 25% of Walmart stores in China now offer delivery in less than one hour through the JD Daojia delivery platform.
- Walmart’s discounted pricing on select online orders when picked up in store continues to grow in popularity. “We’re seeing a nice increase in customers receiving discounts for picking up non-store items at their local stores,” McMillon said.