Despite worrying holiday metrics recently reported by the Census Bureau, Walmart didn’t have a problem driving customers to its stores or website. CEO Doug McMillon said the company’s positive report is thanks in part to a favorable economic environment, as well as accelerated growth in a number of initiatives. E-commerce, for example, benefited from the expansion of its grocery pickup and delivery efforts as well as a broader online assortment, the company said.
The “blowout” earning report is thanks to a number of investments that are beginning to bear fruit, especially in grocery, Charlie O’Shea, Moody’s Lead Walmart Analyst, said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. “Food continues to play a critical role, and Walmart is upping the ante with its investments in this category, putting additional pressure on the entire category,” O’Shea said, adding that he anticipates 2019 will be a year of muscle flexing across multiple categories.
Many analysts are encouraged by Walmart’s growth online, which signals it may have enough competitive strength to compete against Amazon.
“Walmart has been successfully executing its online-forward strategy, laying down aggressive e-commerce growth targets and making some savvy geographic expansions and acquisitions across key verticals, like specialty apparel and grocery,” Michael Lagoni, CEO of retail intelligence firm Stackline, said in comments emailed to Retail Dive.
Last year, the company focused a large portion of its e-commerce efforts on grocery, which, as of December, accounts for 52% of Walmart’s sales. The retailer’s grocery pickup service is available at 2,100 stores — more than double what it was in 2017 — and will expand to 3,100 stores by the end of this year.
Its grocery delivery service launched in March of last year and has been expanding since. Along with its own delivery platform the retailer is partnered with many delivery service providers including Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire, Roadie, DoorDash and Postmates. In addition, Walmart has been testing autonomous grocery delivery by partnering with electric and driverless car company Udelv in Phoenix and Ford in Miami. This was after its first driverless car test with Alphabet’s Waymo, which picks up customers and brings them into stores.
By offering a variety of e-commerce options, the retailer is hoping to attract new customers. Through its recent Jet.com website refresh, Walmart has zeroed in on wealthy, urban millennials. It’s not clear whether that message is resonating, but it does show that Walmart is bulking up to compete on Amazon’s turf.
Source: Grocery Dive