Last week news emerged that Walmart had yet again topped the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s biggest companies — for the third consecutive year — with sales of US $482 billion last year.
The fact that the planet’s retail ecosystem continues to be led by a physical retail format must be a shot-in-the-arm for brick and mortar retailers worldwide. But, there is also a second, fast-expanding component of Walmart’s leadership story: The company is also now the second largest online retailer in the US, after Amazon.
As of June 2015, the world’s top 10 retailers are conspicuously brick-and-mortar chains, although all have growing online retail operations. Despite the rapid growth of Amazon’s revenues and the e-tailer’s expansion into new territories such as India over the past two years, physical store formats continue to draw customers worldwide. Just seven per cent of Walmart’s 2015 revenues of USD 482 billion came from online sales, though the company is investing heavily to boost that metric to 10 per cent by next year.
Courtesy: National Retail Federation (Click Image to Expand)
While Walmart’s adaptation of tech has been slower than that of some of its rivals, it has also initiated a major focus on its food business, which accounts over 50 per cent of its sales. Expanding the offer on organics and offering customers the choice of order pick-ups are some of the fresh strategies under roll out.
Plus, to show that it is more aligned with 21st century commerce, in December 2015, Walmart became the only US retailer to offer its own payment solution that works with any iOS or Android device, at any checkout lane, and with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift card – all through the Walmart mobile app. The mobile payment feature has now been introduced at all its US stores.
”The Walmart app was built to make shopping faster and easier,” said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce. “Walmart Pay is the latest example – and a powerful addition – of how we are transforming the shopping experience by seamlessly connecting online, mobile and stores for the 140 million customers who shop with us weekly.”
Walmart currently boasts of 260 million customers who visit its 11,504 stores under 65 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. While its dominance in the global retailing universe continues, sustaining its leadership — and indeed ensuring its profitable existence — in the future will clearly depend on how nimbly Walmart navigates the digital commerce space, and how intuitively it evolves beyond the ‘Every Day Low Price’ magnet.