“Being able to manage our inventory no matter where it is, is really an advantage for us,” Whiteside said.
This is a boon for Walmart, since Whiteside said stores aren’t going anywhere. People are still craving the experience of a store. Walmart is thinking about, what’s the next irritation of the in-store experience? “How can we use our stores to become the go-to retailer around the stickiness of this new behavior around pickup and delivery?”
Boosting the personalized experience is one approach. Whiteside noted everyone is a data company these days. But when it comes to using data, she posed the question, “how do we marry all of the data we have to get to know the customer better and better?” What’s fascinating about Walmart’s data is the breadth of data it has. With the right permissions, for example, if Walmart knew a customer was gluten-free it could make personalized recommendations.
However, she cautioned, “no matter how great you are at mining and using data, it means nothing if you can’t do it in a way that consumers are comfortable with and that they trust you with.”
Do the right things with customers, with the data, for better solutions, recommendations and personalized services, she recomends.
Looking ahead to the future, Whiteside talked about in-home delivery, such as refrigerator delivery. She said when she talks to people about in-home service you get two reactions, either “I’d love that,” or “no way.”
It comes to trust. Do you trust the retailer to come into your home? “It’s really interesting how quickly you can build that trust,” she noted. Ten years ago you wouldn’t trust a stranger to pick your groceries or pick you up in a car. But we’ve seen the rise of Uber, and the rise of pickup and delivery. In-home delivery is the next irritation.
“If you can establish that level of trust, the upside of time, effort, cognitive load, focus…” coming home from work and the groceries are in the fridge, it’s so appealing…”once you try it once, and it works, we’re seeing people get hooked on the service.”
Auto replenishment is coming next, she said. Imagine never having to think about milk, because it’s always going to be in the fridge.
In the more immediate future, as we all return to “normal,” what does the new normal look like? Not everything about normal was so great. So how do retailers leverage physical and digital to create really great experiences? How do we give the customer more choice?
“Having the ability to learn with our customers, understand where they want to go, is really important,” she said. Walmart has exciting things in the hopper, but she said the retailer needs to listen and be sure that these are the things the customer wants.