What has made Walmart a shutdown star?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
A massive store base, legendary supply chain capabilities and omnichannel investments have given Walmart a sizable advantage amid the pandemic and appears to position the chain for e-commerce success long after the crisis is over.
“It has a massive rural and urban brick-and-mortar footprint that offers inventory positioned around the country in a short period of time,” says Jim Barnes, CEO of EnVista. “That huge item assortment and the ability to get the product to the masses in different ways, shapes and forms is a game-changer.”
Walmart has taken advantage of its strong distribution networks, buying directly from suppliers and clout to assure more consistent stock levels versus some others. But it’s the early work in e-commerce that has positioned Walmart well ahead of other grocers, including Amazon.
Having 3,100 online grocery pickup locations — more than any other retailer (and way more than Amazon’s 150) — particularly helps. Almost overnight, says Don Stuart, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, “The coronavirus pandemic transitioned pickup and delivery from a perk to a public health necessity.”
Beyond the sheer number of stores that can operate as micro fulfillment centers, Walmart also has other advantages over Amazon. Neil Saunders, managing director for retail at GlobalData, says, “It has a fuller assortment, better own label, more buying power and more significant economies of scale.”
Plus, timely enhancements to its website and app have made the online shopping experience easier and more pleasant, which boosted conversion and sales.
For new online grocery shoppers to stick around after the coronavirus threat ends, Mr. Barnes believes Walmart needs to further unify its digital and brick-and-mortar experiences.
Garry Church, VP of enterprise retail at Inmar, added that the massive adoption of its app amid the pandemic has given Walmart “unparalleled customer data” — including basket size, customer order/pickup routines, demographics, etc. — that can be leveraged in the future to provide more relevant offers. He said, “The more app downloads, which include a unique ID via an account number, the more data the company will have about customers specific to e-commerce.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What can rivals learn from Walmart’s performance during the pandemic? How should Walmart and others be looking to build on any COVID-19 gains?