Bentonville is abuzz with all kinds of business people this week. Financial analysts, Walmart Associates from around the world, Manufacturer leadership and a host of others. They are all here to hear from Walmart Leadership on what they can expect in the future.
I love this time of the year as we get to take a peek under the tent and hear about the strategy for the future and determine what it might mean.
This year I thought I would jot down a couple of ideas I am listening for:
Walmart USA | Brick & Mortar
- It’s been a strong year for this business segment with some tough decisions behind them. Looking to see how they are thinking about transforming the stores into the next generation shopping environment.
- It also feels like the time to hear about some investment in evolving the supply chain. Specifically how they can implement an automotive JIT mindset with their warehouses and how to evolve their concept of warehouse automation via machine learning and potentially AI. Could this be part of the role for Store №8 as well.
Walmart International | Brick & Mortar
- With the intense focus being applied to Walmart USA and eCommerce it is going to be important to hear about the strategy and the rationale for this side of the business. Specifically will they be investing in new stores, stronger distribution networks or even new markets. Specifically I want to hear about the strategic role this business unit will play in the upcoming years.
Walmart eCommerce | USA
- The last year has been about rapid change and adaption with a huge focus on M&A. Now that they have some new learnings to work with we have a great opportunity to hear what they have learned and how they will modify their approach moving forward. I am also looking to understand how valuable the acquisitions have been in terms of customer acquisition.
Walmart Global eCommerce vs International
- It is going to be particularly interesting to see if we get some clarity on how Walmart is looking at eCommerce on a global basis. Specifically we need to understand if there is a global model tying all of their work together or if it will be a more piecemeal approach.
- We also want to understand what the future looks like for new market entry on an eCommerce only basis and types of markets would appropriate for their strategy and will they accomplish organically or via M&A.
- Timingwise this might be the time we get to hear what the strategy for what this business unit looks like. Seems like there might be 3 critical buckets: Brick & Mortar, eCommerce strategy and the investments for Private Brands.
Over the course of the previous 18 months Walmart has done a great job of understanding that the future is going to be a much broader definition of retail for them and the significance of eCommerce in their future. They have built and begun to execute some of the best strategic work we have seen in years. I hope this is the year we get to hear about the vision for the future and how Walmart will look to succeed competing with the Flipkarts, Amazons, Alibabas and others.