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The City Wire reports that at a Bank of America Consumer and Retail Conference in New York, Walmart CFO Charles Holley said that the company "is highly focused on accelerating its small format and linking them up with expanded digital and mobile capabilities. These two initiatives comprise more than half of the company’s $12.4 billion in capital expenditures for the fiscal year … Holley told the group that there was still room for hundreds, if not thousands more small format Wal-Mart stores. He added that the small formats offer fuel and pharmacy along with an in-store kiosk that allows shoppers to order any product Wal-Mart offers elsewhere. The tests underway in home delivery, storage lockers and depot pick-up locations are going well, according to Holley."

According to the story, "Holley said Wal-Mart is in a strong financial position to invest in future growth which will occur at the 'intersection of physical and e-commerce.' He said the small format acceleration married to improving e-commerce and digital services is the winning prescription."
KC's View:
I completely agree with Holley about the 'intersection of physical and e-commerce' thing, though I am less sanguine about the company's small stores. Maybe I just visited the wrong stores on bad days, but the small Walmarts I have seen have been haphazardly merchandised at best, with little sense of specificity … they seem more designed to cram as much stuff as possible into small spaces, rather than to be something distinguishable in their own right.

I also found this passage from the City Wire story to be interesting:

"Oddly enough, Holley said Wal-Mart was taken by surprise that more than 100,000 additional employees signed up for health care under the Affordable Care Act. He said that was an unexpected cost increase of $300 million this year.

"When Analysts asked Holley why Wal-Mart was surprised (and) didn’t anticipate the expense, he said Wal-Mart is not aware of every employee’s situation and what other insurance they may or may not have outside the plan that Wal-Mart offers."

I always thought that one of the reasons that Walmart hewed to its salary and health benefits policies was that it knew what is employees needed and wanted, and was providing care and benefits appropriate to their situations.

Except that now, Walmart is saying that it doesn't know as much as it thought it did.