retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Fortune reports that Walmart CEO Mike Duke is in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum, saying it is “yet another sign that the once-insular Wal-Mart is taking its place on the world stage.” Duke and Wal-Mart International chief Doug McMillon hosted a breakfast there yesterday, and Fortune says that they continue to believe that there is a big difference between the haves and the have-nots in the US, are enthusiastic about China and Mexico, and bullish on eventual opportunities in Russia.

But from the MNB point of view, it is the subject of technology that provides the most interesting - and broadly relevant - insight:

“‘We see more and more shoppers who are shopping with smart phones, comparing prices and checking out products before they buy,’ Duke said. Contrary to conventional wisdom that smart phones and other cutting-edge technology are being used mostly by the affluent, Duke said Wal-Mart shoppers are embracing technology as a way to save money. He said the company noticed an inflection point in digital shopping this past Christmas season, with dramatic increases in customer adoption of Wal-Mart programs such as ordering online and picking up their products at stores. Duke said consumers embracing digital technology doesn't affect Wal Mart's margins all that much. ‘But we think it plays well to our every day low prices strategy,’ he said.”
KC's View:
Often, I speak of the shopping revolution that is taking place because of smart phone technology and the utter transparency of products, prices and services, retailers look at me as this is the worst thing that can happen to them.

It is critical, IMHO, to look at such developments - since you can’t do anything to stop them - as an opportunity. This kind of transparency makes it possible to be front and center about your advantages as well as your prices. If you don’t ... well, Walmart will. (And, quite frankly, probably will be pleased by the competition’s myopia.)