retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• Good piece in Inc. about the steps that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon has taken to restore the retailer to greater relevance in a retail climate dramatically changed by Amazon’s presence. An excerpt:

“McMillon took over as Walmart's chief executive in February 2014. At the time, most shareholders were happy with Walmart's performance, with an annual profit of $16 billion and hundreds of new stores opening across the country.

But McMillon saw big problems … In McMillon's view, while Walmart appeared to be in great shape, in reality it was sick--suffering from the disease of complacency.”

You can read the story here.


Business Insider has a story about a new patent filing by Walmart that seems to enable online shopping via virtual reality technology.

According to the story, “The virtual stores would potentially allow shoppers to explore a three-dimensional representation of the company's stores, shopping much like they would in real life. Adding a virtual item to a basket would put it in a virtual shopping cart. When a customer checks out, those items would be sent much like any other online shopping order … The virtual store is likely the product of Walmart's Store No. 8 tech incubator, which develops new, high-tech ways to sell products and get them to customers. The retailer has been discussing virtual reality's promise for a while now, and it held a ‘v-commerce’ gala in Los Angeles in October 2017 to showcase ideas around how virtual reality could affect retail in the future.”

Bloomberg writes that “the filing is part of Walmart's recent push into virtual reality, an area that holds promise for brick-and-mortar retailers struggling with the massive costs associated with store upkeep and labor. In February the retailer acquired Spatialand, a startup that makes software tools to create virtual-reality experiences.”

The Bloomberg story says that Walmart has filed for more than a dozen patents related to virtual reality technology.
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