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Fast Company has a piece in which Marc Lore - founder of Jet and CEO of Walmart’s e-commerce business - talks about the strides the company is making in the digital space.

Some excerpts:

• “We’re finding at Walmart that when people shop both online and in-store, they shop twice as much. When we get people who shop only in-store to shop online, they actually buy more in the store after that.”

• “Voice will be the next big way to leverage data. It will enable people to communicate either in their car or home or on their device and shop in a conversational way with a robot in the way that they would with a specialist on the showroom floor of a retailer. That robot will know you as well as your mom and dad.”

• “In 10 years, you’ll be able to put on a pair of glasses and be immersed into experiences that display products in their native environment. So you can just put on the glasses and say, ‘I’m interested in going camping’ and be transported to a campsite and be able to walk the site … The bandwidth isn’t there to commercialize it yet, but in 10 years it’s going to change how people shop. It’s going to completely change the game.”

• “We’ve got a lot of work to do on Walmart.com with the basic experience, just making sure you can find the product, the information’s there, it’s priced right, and it’s delivered with a great experience. I spend most of my time on this kind of stuff, building the foundation. At the same time, I’m focused on Store 8, which is an incubator looking at the future of retail, like virtual reality and voice and how the brick-and-mortar store is going to change. What assets can we leverage in a way that no one else can?

“For us, it comes down to the 4,600 stores. Those stores are within 10 miles of 90% of the [U.S.] population. If you fast-forward into the future, there’s no reason why we couldn’t deliver to 90% of the population [our] 100,000 top products—including fresh and frozen food—in two hours, or at least same day. There’s no cheaper way to get product forward deployed.”

• “I think that digitally native brands are the future. Having that direct connection to the customer is very important. Millennial shoppers want to not only buy the product but know where the product’s made, the environmental position of the company, the social impact that the company’s making.”
KC's View:
This is tremendously powerful stuff, and indicative of the degree to which Walmart has changed the way it thinks about retailing. There’s no question that Walmart is taking a different approach than Amazon; while Amazon’s ecosystem-building approach means that it would be likely to build various technologies and pieces of hardware to envelop the shopper, Walmart seems to have no such interest - Lore says that their job is to be better marketers and merchandisers, focused on how to use tech to sell more stuff.

Both are completely legitimate approaches … the problem is for the rest of the retailing community, which has to avoid being crushed between these two behemoths.