Walstreet Speaker Series: Technology Investment

Walmart is building upon the past to maximize its future. The retail giant plans on making a huge investment in their people, training and technology to evolve with an increasingly complex shopping landscape.  Walmart isn’t going to forgo the value and expansive selection that got it where it is today, but is mindful of technological advances that enhance both the in-store and online shopping experience. Today’s omni-channel shoppers are researching and purchasing online more than ever before. Saying “no” to change stifles innovation.Charles Redfield Picture

That was the message that Charles Redford, VP of US Walmart Food Division, delivered to a crowd at the Sam’s Club Home Office auditorium as part of the 2016 Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce Walstreet Speaker Series. He said that being great merchants is both a science and an art. Accessibility of information and data can’t be ignored…and anyone along the supply chain that does is taking a great risk. Both shoppers and sellers use that information to make better decisions.

He outlined the four pillars for Walmart’s growth strategy:

  • Win With Stores – People still like to see and feel the things that they purchase. Physical and process-oriented improvements will be made to stores for a better in-store shopping experience.
  • Deliver Value – A great low price has worked for years and will continue. A focus on innovation combined with honest value enhances this position as shoppers check competitive pricing online.
  • Be Great Merchants – A balance or artful merchandising with data analytics.
  • Provide Convenience – Shoppers today have more information at their fingertips than ever before and some don’t to even visit the store for purchase. This represents a great opportunity for omni-channel marketing and transfer the Walmart seamless shopping experience to the digital arena.

When completed, this initiative should be a big win for customers, suppliers and Walmart alike.

“Walmart is investing technology. They’re investing in training. They’re investing in their people,” said Lane Dickerson Adams, WhyteSpyder VP of Client Relations, who attended the presentation. “They’re listening to what their customers want. Their customers want the ease and convenience of ecommerce and online shopping.”

That means bumping up Walmart’s online presence and better equipping stores for delivery and in-store pickup from online orders. Redford said that Walmart’s US plan to win is based on delivering a seamless shopping experience at scale, both through ecommerce and in-store. Appealing to the omni-channel shopper who utilizes phones, tablets, laptops and other devices through the purchase process is becoming more and more crucial to success.

Eric Howerton, WhyteSpyder CEO said, “Walmart is dead-on with its approach to their omni-channel shopper. There could be thousands of ways Walmart intends on reaching these customers. Some will miss, but some will stick. To be sure, Walmart knows how its shoppers are behaving today and how rapidly they change. Walmart is asking manufacturers for data and content for each of their products…a pretty direct and valuable request, which will lead to greater sales for the manufacturer. Walmart will continue to invest heavily in reaching the shopper, but they need the data and content from the product manufacturers to be successful.”

These technological advances need to be made quickly in order to get out in front of an already fast-moving customer. At the same time, more traditional methods of reaching customers are not going to be ignored; the digital platform is more of an add-on to what is already being done.

“What he was getting at seemed to be a bit of a caution to those amongst the supply chain,” said Dickerson Adams. “If your customers are looking for your product on Walmart.com, and it isn’t there, those people are going to your competition.”

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