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Wal-Mart Branching Out

Wal-Mart will focus on becoming a more aggressive merchant and improving the shopping experience for female customers, executives said during the company's annual shareholder meeting last week.

In concentrating on its opening price point customer, “We may not have focused enough on customers willing to pay for a little better quality and style,” said Mike Duke, president and CEO, Wal-Mart Stores USA.

Wal-Mart needs to widen its field to a broader range of customers, President and CEO Lee Scott told shareholders.

He described the retailer's core U.S. customer as someone who has to save money to get by, then pointed to the customer who shops Wal-Mart only for consumables as a potential target for expanded sales.

“When it comes to buying domestics or apparel, that customer isn't shopping with us. They go somewhere else where they believe they find items more suitable to their taste,” he said, noting the spring addition of 400-count sheets addressed that segment.

He added that the retailer's global sourcing and product development units are working more closely together — “putting us right where fashion exists.”

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