Walmart Outlines ‘Ecosystem’ Approach

The retail giant says its path to growth will rely on an ecosystem of meeting all three kinds of consumer trips: stock-up, grocery and convenience shopping.

October 21, 2013

WASHINGTON – Can Walmart be everything to everyone? With the ability to offer three retail formats — superstore, grocery and convenience — to meet the shopping trips of its customers, perhaps so.

Although the mega-retail chain is cutting costs, it’s not slowing down its path to growth, “and it has something to do with what they call ‘ecosystems,’” writes the Washington Post.

The newspaper writes: “In Walmart's thinking, there are three types of shopping trips: There's the stock-up mission, which brings families to Walmart's 3,200 nationwide Supercenters. There's the basic grocery run, when shoppers want to go someplace nearby and more navigable, such as one of Walmart's 300 ‘neighborhood markets.’ And there's the ‘immediate access’ stop, when shoppers head for the traditional convenience store. That convenience stop is the segment Walmart hasn't really touched, except for a handful of ‘express’ stores in Arkansas.”

Walmart told investors last week that it plans to build approximately 120 to 150 small format stores in the U.S. during the next fiscal year. 

 “We will accelerate growth of our Neighborhood Markets because of their strong returns, consistent comp sales performance and double-digit net sales increases,” said Bill Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO. 

“We believe our multi-format portfolio will fuel the next generation of retail, enable the convergence of digital and physical store locations through e-commerce and unlock value, giving our customers anytime, anywhere access to Walmart,” added Simon. “We are positioned for sustainable growth and are the only company with a unique combination of large supercenters, small formats and a dotcom and mobile presence.”

Rather than one massive store that tries to be everything to everyone, Walmart delivers three formats that offer merchandise at the time and place customers want them, notes the Post.

"So, imagine you're at work, and you decide you need gas on your way home, and you know that Walmart Express store — because you go by it every single day — has fuel, and you decide what you want for dinner, and you want a rotisserie chicken, and, by the way, later that night, you decided that you'd like to play scrabble with your spouse," Simon said. "I mean, go on your phone, let the store know that you want a scrabble board, certainly something that's not going to be carried in a 10,000 SKU assortment, and it will be there, ... or a sewing machine or anything that's in the Supercenter assortment."