Advantage: Walmart?

What’s Going On

Not a day passes when we are not more acutely aware of Amazon impacting and possibly winning the business of retail. Let us not forget the first competitor in the mega sales business, Wal-Mart. As Fast Company puts it, “[Wal-Mart is] currently locked in a battle for consumers’ dollars with Amazon that dominates online shopping.”

We’ve known Wal-Mart to change the game of business and it appears they’re thinking that way still/again. Using this one key fact, Wal-Mart hopes to leverage that to their advantage to beat Amazon.

  • Ninety percent of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store

What They’re Doing

Walmart has realized the importance of this fact, the increasing consumer empowerment and are leveraging it into many different ways to help consumers get what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

1. Fast, customized deliveries: In order to do this, Walmart plans to have their stores double as warehouses. So users create shopping baskets online and schedule them for delivery whenever they want, adding items up until the night before the scheduled time.

  • Plus: Walmart plans to use a machine learning algorithm to predict which items frequent shoppers will want every week. Apparently our habits make customization easy as a Walmart executive says that shoppers order the same items they ordered the previous week 85% of the time.
  • Bonus: Given that most of the cost in e-tail is shipping, the proximity of a Walmart to most homes in the U.S. really helps solve that cost of the last mile that plagues many retailers.

2. Convenient pick up: If you’re the type of customer who would rather click and collect, Wal-Mart can support that control and expediency that you want. Walmart stores now feature large vending machine-like towers where you can pick up an online order, and lockers for even bigger delivery items.

  • Bonus: Sure this sounds a lot like the Amazon lockers placed in convenient locations like 7-11. The problem for Amazon is that they have to rent that space the lockers are located on. Walmart owns their land, so there’s another area of profit advantage for them in the convenience game.

3. The stock problem: By making their stores double as warehouses, Walmart runs the risk of running out of a particular item faster than if it were just a store. But of course, they’ve thought of this. Walmart is rolling out a robot that is designed to look at inventory on shelves. Equipped with cameras and a map of what’s supposed to be on the shelf, the robots stroll around hunting for missing items. If it finds one, it alerts a store employee to restock the item or alerts logistics to bring more items in.

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Why It’s Hot

While the increasing demands from consumers usually means more expense to businesses, Walmart realized that something true about their brand (their presence) could be an advantage. And their profits are trending upwards. In 2018, Walmart’s online sales grew 40%.

Fast Company sums it up perfectly, “By using technology to put the company’s colossal retail footprint to work for online deliveries and orders, Walmart is showing how tech can transform traditional retail into something of a hybrid.” [Heads up USPS team.]

[Source: Fast Company]