Pledging “to reimagine retail again,” Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s President and CEO Doug McMillon outlined an agressive agenda the mega-retailer is embarking to restore its clout – both with improved in-store operational fundamentals, to the more complex omnichannel initiatives – at its 46th annual shareholders meeting at the Bud Walton Arena in its Bentonville, Ark., hometown.
McMillon outlined three critical steps for the retailer’s reinvention: supporting and engaging Walmart associates, serving customers and serving communities.
“As the world becomes more digital, it will be the humanity of Walmart that differentiates us and wins with customers,” he said. “Our investments in education and training, store structure, wages, hours and sales floor technology are to support you and enable you to serve your customers and members. Every associate has a role to play. The actions of 2.3 million of you add up to something big.”
A lynchpin in the plan includes several new endeavors, such as partnerships with Uber, Lyft and Deliv, to expand its grocery delivery capability. As the company noted in a June 3 blog by Michael Bender, EVP and COO, Walmart Global e-Commerce: “Walmart will start with tests of grocery delivery through Uber in Phoenix and Lyft in Denver, which we expect to start within the next two weeks. This is in addition to a very quiet Sam’s Club pilot that started in March with Deliv, involving delivery of general merchandise and grocery for business members in Miami.”
According to Bender, the process is simple: “A customer in one of the test locations places their grocery order online and selects a delivery window. Our personal shoppers, highly trained Walmart associates, will carefully select and prepare their order. Then, our team may request a driver from one of these services to come to the store, pick up the customer’s order, and take it directly to the customer’s location. It’s all seamless to the customer. They pay us our normal $7-10 delivery charge online, and make no payment to the driver. We’ll also let them know their order is being delivered by a driver from Uber or Lyft.” The Sam’s Club process is similar, and has met with great success so far. “Our members who have used it, love it,” the blog asserts.
Bender expressed enthusiasm about working with such “transformative” companies, adding, “We’ll start small and let our customers guide us, but testing new things like last-mile delivery allows us to better evaluate the various ways we can best serve our customers how, when and where they need us.”
At the shareholders' meeting, McMillon emphasized the company’s commitment to emerging technology and other cutting-edge practices – he connected with associates around the world via Facebook Live during the event – but with a distinctly human touch. “As the world becomes more digital, it will be the humanity of Walmart that differentiates us and wins with customers,” he noted. “Our investments in education and training, store structure, wages, hours, and sales floor technology are to support you and enable you to serve your customers and members. Every associate has a role to play. The actions of 2.3 million of you add up to something big.”
"Late Late Show" host, James Corden, hosted the shareholders meeting, which featured performances by Katy Perry, Nick Jonas, Andy Grammer and Maxwell.
Amid the celebrities, Walmart's CEO heavily referenced the company's founder, Sam Walton, to inspire a new chapter for the world's largest retailer.
Among the company’s recent accomplishments, McMillon pointed to the ongoing development of pickup or delivery capabilities in 11 countries, and, in the United States specifically, more engaged associates, an improved merchandise assortment, better inventory flow, online grocery pickup in nearly 40 markets, Walmart Pay set to be available in every store by the end of June, an unlimited two-day shipping option from Walmart.com, and a rapid online assortment expansion.
“We’ll be there for our customers – making their lives simpler and better. And customers will choose Walmart because we’ve earned it,” said McMillon, also referencing the company’s role in serving communities by “operating in a way you [associates] and your family can be proud of.”
In other Walmart news, the company has opened a culinary and innovation center to serve as a test lab for new products; revamped its food offering in an increasing number of stores to feature more organics and other high-end products like fresh sushi, gourmet cheeses and charcuterie, along with a more attractive, easier-to-navigate layout, as a way to lure shoppers seeking a more upscale shopping experience; and revealed the return of its iconic "Smiley" symbol in signage and advertising.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates 11,527 stores under 63 banners in 28 countries, and e-commerce websites in 11 countries.