Walmart’s Focus on Mobile, Grocery Boosts E-Commerce Sales 37%

Walmart’s e-commerce growth exceeds expectations thanks to an expansive digital push and a recent focus on app downloads.

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Need to Know

  • In its recent Q4 earnings report, Walmart reported online sales growth of 37%, beating its own internal growth target of 35%. 
  • The superstore has focused on digital growth lately with curbside pickup, autonomous transport pilots, and revamped social media strategies that boost app downloads.
  • Despite e-commerce growth, the retailer missed analyst’s revenue targets. Walmart reported revenue of $141.67 billion instead of an expected $142.49, and same-store sales growth of 1.9%, just shy of the predicted 2.3%. 

Analysis

Despite a slower-than-expected holiday season, Walmart’s reported online sales growth marks important progress for the retailer, whose recent efforts have focused on technology, customer experience, and a digital push. 

In Walmart’s most recent earnings call, the superstore reported an e-commerce sales growth of 37%, surpassing its own target of 35%. The growth is in line with global trends—Statista predicts that an estimated 2.05 billion people worldwide will purchase goods online in 2020. Walmart has a number of processes it uses to facilitate the execution of its e-commerce growth.  

“We’re using a combination of last-mile solutions. We’re using crowdsource companies and we have our own platform called Spark that we’re experimenting with,” said Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon in an earnings call. 

“It’s the crowdsource delivery platforms that are really helping us achieve scale. It looks to me like there’s a long runway here where our Supercenters can double as fulfillment centers and stores and also generate a great store experience.”

In December Walmart Canada began integrating blockchain into its supply chain, allowing the retailer to track deliveries more effectively, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliations—essentially increasing efficiency and order fulfillment as the retailer scales. 

One area Walmart has expansion plans for is its online grocery. Customers can expect to see an expansion on its buy online, pick-up in-store curbside delivery service with the inclusion of items outside of the traditional “grocery” category to include small, lightweight clothing and tech items. 

In 2016 Walmart purchased e-commerce shopping site Jet.com for $3.3 billion, hoping to capture the company’s younger, more affluent and urban customer base. Even though Walmart recently shuttered Jet, the focus on groceries is paying off when it comes to targeting higher-income shoppers. Walmart reports seeing an increase of pricier food items like organic fruits and vegetables in customers’ virtual baskets.

High-end food items bring affluent customers to the site, and while there they purchase additional items from other departments on the website, explained John Furner, president, and CEO of Walmart, at a recent New York City event.

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