Walmart's global e-commerce top of mind for future
Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, October 17, 2012
Bentonville, Ark. - Walmart outlined the four-pronged global ecommerce strategy it's implementing to become the worldwide leader in online retailing during its 19th annual meeting for the investment community earlier this month.
Neil Ashe, president and ceo, Walmart Global eCommerce, said Walmart "is going to win in e-commerce by being Walmart."
By that, he said, "e-commerce here is different than it is everywhere else" because Walmart is "the only company with 10,000 points of distribution around the world. We're the only company with access to 200 million customers on a weekly basis. We're the only company with one of the best logistics networks in the world and we're the only company with the supplier relationships that we have to bring to bear to make a different experience for our consumers. Tie it all together. That's any time anywhere access. And we're going to provide that to Walmart around the world."
To achieve this, the first step will be to "excel in fundamentals -- get the basics of e-commerce right." Ashe said this entails knowing customers by name.
"A commitment to know who you are -- it's a very simple concept. But it unlocks a tremendous opportunity to do things like personalized commerce," he explained. "We should know who you are and you should have a different experience whenever you come in contact with Walmart or Sam's club as a result of that knowledge of who you are."
Secondly, Walmart is looking to "take advantage of new technologies that allow us innovate on the edge and do new and different things than anyone else is capable of doing," Ashe said. More simply put: Offer a wide assortment at the best price.
"There aren't any walls on e-commerce," he went on. "We can offer as many items as the customer wants, and it's our commitment to do that. So currently we sell millions of items on Walmart.com. Maybe 10 times what you'd find in a Supercenter. We're going to take that number to tens of millions over the next year."
Third on the list is to "win" in key markets worldwide, providing "the best service not just in a retail environment, but in any internet environment," Ashe said. This means "the best site, best app, best store, best club. How can we use technology to transform your interaction with us so that you have the highest quality experience every time you come in contact with Walmart, whether it's at your kitchen table or at one of our stores or clubs?"
Finally, the fourth effort calls for Walmart to pull together its entire platform and then unite and expand it to ultimately forge "a deeper relationship with the consumers that we already have around the world."
Over the past year, Walmart has laid some groundwork for its larger efforts going forward, Ashe noted.
One of the key new technological developments Walmart has made recently allows the company to now monitor price across the internet.
"Pricing is fundamental to how we compete in the marketplace, and so technically, we were flying blind," Ashe said. "We didn't understand exactly what the prices were on our products around the web, and now we do. We can monitor and every 20 minutes the price of every product that we're selling around the web. That's an incredibly powerful tool as we start to present to our customers the ability to know that when you go to our properties at Walmart.com or Sam's club or our other properties around the world that you're going to find the right price relative to the competition."
Crowd sourcing is another vehicle Walmart's global ecommerce division is now using to broaden its customer and product reach.
"We're...availing ourselves of the new ways people, our consumers are acting in the marketplace. So crowd sourcing, this idea that you can empower a lot of people to do things for you and to do work for you is a trend on the internet that we wanted to make part of Walmart."
The company created this program called "Get on the Shelf" thinking it would get "a couple hundred entries," Ashe said. Instead, it received 4,000 entries from people looking to get their products on Walmart shelves.
"We put the video that his they submitted out to our Facebook fans. We got over 1 million votes about the products that they'd want to see on the shelves...in partnership with [Mac Naughton] and his team, we've gotten three of those products on the shelf so far....Most importantly, we made a connection. The program was such a success that we've already ruled it out in markets outside the U.S. In fact, it's live in China as we speak today."
More recently, the company launched same-day delivery in four markets around the U.S. - Washington D.C.'s metro area, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and San Francisco's Bay Area.
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