retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Numerous news outlets are carrying stories about an appearance by Walmart CEO Doug McMillon at the Code Conference, a media and technology confab in Los Angeles.

Among the items emerging from the event…

• McMillon said that Walmart's "pace of acquisitions . . . is going to accelerate" as it looks to compete more effectively with Amazon and others in the online space. The Wall Street Journal story notes that "Walmart has already been fairly active in acquiring web companies through its research division @WalmartLabs, which has made a dozen small acquisitions over the past few years. Earlier this month, the company bought Adchemy, an advertising technology company for online retailers, for an undisclosed amount."

CNBC reports that McMillon said that he can foresee a time when big box stores do not dominate the company's business. "If they [customers] don't want stores we don't have to have stores, having said that I think we will have stores in the future, but it will change," he said. And, McMillon added that "e-commerce, and the blurring of e-commerce with traditional retailing, will likely lead to smaller stores, with customers increasingly using stores as a pickup location."

GeekWire reports that McMillon complimented Amazon, saying that it "is teaching the world what's possible." He also said that "since Jan. 1, he’s taken three trips to Silicon Valley, where the company operates its labs, and he says he considers himself a student of technology."

• McMillon also said that while he made close to $10 million last year, he is just another associate. "I'm one of them," he said, according to the CNBC report, and he pointed out that he used to work in a store and a warehouse. He argued that even Walmart's lowest-paid employees have the opportunity to move into higher-paid jobs.
KC's View:
I was intrigued by one element in the GeekWire story in which McMillon said that he wasn't sure about Walmart producing its own differentiated content in the same way that Amazon and Netflix do … but that the company is likely to partner with tech companies to make differentiated devices.

Just goes to show how companies have consider and embrace even non-traditional businesses as they move forward and try to differentiate themselves. In addition, of course, to being willing to change traditional models in an effort to remain relevant.