Walmart CEO outlines the future of shopping
McMillon said Walmart has “started to invent the future of shopping again,” as the company leverages technology to empower associates and improve the customer experience.
"Together, we’re building a new Walmart,” McMillon told more than 14,000 associates from across the U.S. and around the world in Bud Walton Arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., at the retailer's annual shareholders meeting. “We’re going to make shopping with us faster, easier and more enjoyable. We’ll do more than just save customers money and you, our associates, will make the difference. Looking ahead, we will compete with technology, but win with people. We will be people-led and tech-empowered.”
In outlining a vision for the future, McMillon said Walmart will stay ahead of changes by providing the best prices and great merchandise, while saving customers time and creating a fast, easy and enjoyable shopping experience. “We’re making every day easier for busy families and we’re using new ways of working to do it,” he said.
Walmart announced the company has recently begun a trial that enables store associates to deliver store items to customers in a new way to improve “last mile” delivery. The trial, which is early in development, pays participating store associates to deliver customer packages on their existing commute home from work, substantially increasing the retailer’s reach into suburban and rural communities.
McMillon noted other tests that will empower and benefit customers. They include digital endless-aisle shopping in stores, automated pickup towers in stores for online orders, pickup stations in store parking lots, robotics and image analytics to scan aisles for item availability and shelf presentation and machine learning and more advanced algorithms in pricing systems.
McMillon went on to highlight initiatives helping to drive company results by creating a better working experience for associates and shopping experience for customers. They include:
- Free two-day shipping on more than two million items, with no membership fee;
- A discount for customers picking up online orders in stores;
- Grocery pickup in many markets around the world and delivery from stores in some;
- Jet Fresh delivery, which provides delivery of fresh groceries to the home in 1-2 days and is now available to half of the U.S. population and growing.
McMillon struck an optimistic tone about the future of work and technology, encouraging the company’s 2.3 million worldwide associates to “be lifelong learners.” While investments are being made in technology, he stressed that people remain central to Walmart’s business. “The secret to our success will always be our people – it will be us,” he said, highlighting Walmart’s commitment to train and equip workers with the tools and skills they need.
“I think we should recognize that we’ll be able to learn, grow and change together,” he said. While Walmart will always be a place where associates can learn to run a store or lead a distribution center, McMillon went on to say the company is creating jobs in new areas, including data scientists, machine-learning engineers and mobile app developers. “More than ever, Walmart will be a ladder of opportunity.”
McMillon spoke about the company’s role in serving communities. “Customers have always trusted us for our low prices, but they also want to know that the products they buy are good for their families, the planet and the people that made them,” he said.
McMillon pointed to ways Walmart gives back to communities, including programs to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses – a goal that was met last year – and to source $250 billion in products that support American jobs over a 10-year period. He also highlighted projects to source more local and sustainable products and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the company’s supply chain by one gigaton by 2030, praising Walmart’s suppliers as allies in this work.
“Our world is increasingly transparent and we’re out to earn trust,” he said. “When people shine a light on Walmart and see our decisions – the jobs we create, the activities in our supply chain – we want them to like what they see.”