On February 1st, after 47 years being known as Wal-Mart Stores, the world's largest retailer will officially change it's name to Walmart Inc.
Big deal, right? Most people (myself included) probably didn't even realize the official name was Wal-Mart Stores until they announced the name change in December. So why does it matter? While the new name won't inherently change anything about how Walmart does business, it represents a greater shift to embrace a more omnichannel future.
In the words of Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO "Our customers know us as Walmart and today they shop with us not only in our stores but online and with our app as well." He continues to explain that "While our legal name is used in a limited number of places, we felt it was best to have a name that was consistent with the idea that you can shop us however you like as a customer."
As companies like Amazon.com Inc continue to challenge Walmart's position as top retailer, the company is putting in place a very effective strategy for staying ahead. The focus is being put on e-commerce, and the seamless integration of the Walmart online store and app with the in-store experience. Walmart has begun making these strides by acquiring Jet.com and Bonobos, offering two-day free delivery, further integrating stores and e-commerce, and improving its mobile shopping app. These changes have already led to a 50% increase in online sales in the U.S. over the past three quarters, which is more than triple the pace of the broader e-commerce sector, and this is only the beginning.
Walmart and Google have recently teamed up to tap into the voice-shopping market, which was previously dominated by Amazon’s AI virtual assistant Alexa. While Alexa lets U.S. consumers shop directly from Amazon, people are now able to buy Walmart products in a similar way—using the voice-activated Google Assistant platform on their phones and home devices.
These changes being made by the biggest retailers like Walmart and Amazon are important indicators of the future of retail. For smaller companies, looking at the things that the large retailers focus on can be a key way of staying ahead of your competitors. After all, Walmart has been at the top of the retail game for years, and it looks like they are staying there, or at least putting up a good fight. Though it may seem like a small change, Walmart's new name shows the importance that this company puts on providing a seamless, omnichannel retail experience to their customers. Do you provide this? How integrated are your app, website and store? Walmart and Amazon seem to think that voice shopping is the next big thing, so maybe it's time to start looking into this technology for your own retail business.
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