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Walmart Lays Out Future Direction


At Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s annual shareholders meeting, President and CEO Doug McMillon reaffirmed the company's mission and discussed new ways the mega-retailer would serve shoppers through three core principles: being a "customer-driven" company, investing in associates, and positioning itself at the forefront of innovation and technology.

"Customers will increasingly expect and require the best of both worlds," noted McMillon. "They want the excitement and the immediacy of shopping in a physical store and the freedom to shop whenever, however and wherever they want. They want an experience that seamlessly adapts to their life. Walmart can bring together our stores with new digital commerce capabilities to help customers save money, save time, and have access to what they want and need. Walmart will exceed their expectations."

He continued: "We'll keep adding services and pickup points to our stores to become even more convenient. We'll also strive to have collection points wherever our customers want us to be, and we've seen the demand for food delivery in places like the U.K., Mexico and China. And of course, we'll keep improving our traditional e-commerce offering of ordering online and shipping to customers' homes."

According to McMillon, Walmart will aim to boost same-store sales through "[p]rice leadership. [Being] strong in stock. Friendly customer service and compelling merchandise. Items that surprise and delight. Merchandise that is presented aggressively."

"Today at Walmart, our data is more organized, more analyzed and more visualized than ever," added Sam's Club President and CEO Rosalind Brewer. "This is helping us make faster and smarter business decisions. But most important, it's helping personalize our service to customers and members. Retailers that lead on data and personalization will be the retailers of the future."

Developing Associates

On the subject of associate investment, McMillon acknowledged that the company "can do an even better job of creating opportunities to learn and grow. We'll prepare our associates to serve customers better, while building the careers [employees] want at Walmart."

To that end, Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. said the company is working on "more flexible work schedules to support … the needs of all our associates, now and in the future."

Technology Rules

In the digital realm, McMillon stressed the importance of understanding “the shift that has happened in technology and retail, what it means for us and what we're doing to win. There's a lot of innovation and opportunity available to us.”

"I see customers' shopping habits changing more rapidly than I can remember," weighed in David Cheesewright, Walmart International president and CEO. "Customers are shopping more online, with mobile devices, and they really like convenience. If our customer changes fast, we have to change even faster if we want to continue to exceed her expectations."

Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce, spoke about how the company was responding to the strong growth of e-commerce sales. "We are integrating digital retail and physical retail to create one seamless, customer-driven Walmart experience,” he said. "This is providing our shoppers with more value, more time and greater access. We are helping people save money in new and convenient ways so they can live a better life. And we're doing it by bringing together the best of e-commerce and the best of retail."

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart operates 10,994 stores under 71 banners in 27 countries, and e-commerce websites in 10 countries.

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