Walmart has always been a people business. Each week, over 275 million customers and members visit its stores and websites and it employs over 2.2 million associates worldwide. Today, however, President and CEO Doug McMillon points out that while this global retail giant is still people-led, it’s also empowered by technology.
“Our strategy at Walmart is to be people-led and tech-empowered,” he explains. “We have always used technology, but with what's possible today, we'll continue making investments to put data and other forms of technology to work to do a better job of serving our customers.”
The sheer ambition of Walmart’s digital strategy is seen in its investment track record, designed to quickly gain traction in the digital space and take the fight to competitors. In May 2018, for example, Walmart paid US$16 billion for a majority stake in Flipkart, India's biggest online retailer. This made it one of the world’s largest ever e-commerce acquisitions and signaled Walmart’s determination to go on the offensive against retail’s digital natives. India's e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 20271.
Technology innovation is also allowing Walmart’s people to focus on customers first. The company plans to roll out in-store automation robotics to take care of tasks such as keeping store floors clean, freeing up associate time to serve customers2. And late last year, the company announced that Shafter, Calif., will be the home of Walmart’s first high-tech distribution center, using dynamic warehouse and order-picking systems that transform how retailers like Walmart process grocery perishables, from eggs to flowers3.
With revenues of over $514 billion a year, pivoting a giant like Walmart to digital has required significant organizational agility. For Doug McMillon, that sort of agility is only possible if leaders are prepared to open their minds to new ideas and commit to a process of ongoing learning.
“To stay agile today, I think we, as individuals and as a team, have got to be taking in information – being curious and reaching out and learning from people,” he says. “Being a firm the size of Walmart, it's important that we become lifelong learners across the entire company. We have a lot of leaders in the company – around the world – but each one of us, individually, has got to be growing and learning every day.”
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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewees and survey respondents and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG International or any KPMG member firm. KPMG’s involvement is not an endorsement, sponsorship or implied backing of any company’s products or services.