Online sales in the U.S. grew by at least 60% for the second straight quarter at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and now the retail giant is expanding its efforts to deliver web orders to shoppers faster.
Walmart, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, reported online sales in the U.S. grew 60% year over year during the second quarter of its 2018 fiscal year ended July 31. “E-commerce results include all web-initiated transactions including those through Walmart.com such as ship-to-home, ship-to-store, pick up today and online grocery, as well as transactions through Jet.com and the other sites in our family of brands,” chief financial officer Brett Biggs said on the retailer’s Q2 2018 earnings call Thursday morning, according to a transcript of the call posted on Walmart’s website.
Gross merchandise value, which is the value of goods sold through its websites, grew by 67% year over year during the quarter. “GMV represents the total U.S. dollar volume of merchandise sold or services rendered for all transactions, including marketplace transactions, that are generally initiated through our e-commerce platforms or include our owned inventory sold on other third-party platforms,” Walmart says. Walmart launched its online marketplace in 2009. Internet Retailer estimates that Walmart has around 5,000 sellers selling on its marketplace.
Walmart does not break out dollar figures for online sales or GMV.
“The majority of this growth was organic through Walmart.com as customers are finding a broader assortment and more options to receive what they want at their convenience,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said on the earnings call.
Analysts say Walmart’s accelerated online sales growth hints that its acquisition spree over the past 12 months may be paying off.
“Explosive online growth is continuing its post-Jet.com trend, and we expect this level of performance to continue, along with Walmart’s ongoing efforts to leverage Jet by making tactical pure-play online acquisitions similar to the recent Bonobos deal, and therefore put itself in the solid No. 2 position behind Amazon in most online categories,” Moody’s lead retail analyst Charlie O’Shea wrote. Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500.
Walmart acquired men’s apparel retailer Bonobos (No. 232) in June for $310 million. Walmart’s acquisition spree, which has included retailers ShoeBuy.com Inc. (No. 103), ModCloth Inc. (No. 198) and Moosejaw (No. 258), began last August with its $3.3 billion purchase of online marketplace Jet.com.
McMillon was quick to acknowledge the impact those acquisitions have had on the retailer’s business.
“Our recent acquisitions, such as Moosejaw, ShoeBuy and Bonobos further improved our assortment and have provided critical category expertise in higher-margin categories like shoes and apparel,” he said.
Walmart has more than 67 million products available on Walmart.com, which includes products on its online marketplace. Its SKU count has grown more than 30% from last quarter, Biggs said.
Online sales are growing fast, and McMillon said stores will be key to continued online success.
“We’re seeing a nice increase in customers receiving discounts for picking up nonstore items at their local stores,” McMillon said. In April, Walmart began offering shoppers a Pickup Discount on more than 10,000 online-only products if a shopper opted to have those items shipped to a Walmart store rather than their home.
Walmart president and CEO of U.S. e-commerce Marc Lore wrote at the time that Walmart can offer the discount because it costs the retailer less to ship an online order to a store, and it can pass the savings on to shoppers.
McMillon said the company is undertaking a number of initiatives designed to better leverage the chain’s stores to fulfill online orders. Among them is a Pickup Tower, which the retailer began testing earlier this year and will be rolling out to 100 stores nationwide by the end of the year. The Pickup Tower is an automated machine located within a store that allows a shopper to pick up her online order by scanning a bar code that Walmart sends to her smartphone.
Walmart also began testing an associate delivery service during the second quarter, where store associates make extra money during their off-hours by delivering online orders to shoppers’ homes.
“(Walmart)’s quarterly earnings announcement today reinforced the relevance of brick-and-mortar — and paired with expansive e-commerce options can only help in the competition against online retailers like Amazon,” says Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at multichannel marketing platform Episerver.
- Net sales of $121.949 billion, up 2.1% from $119.405 billion during the same time last year.
- U.S. sales of $78.738 billion, up 3.3% from $76.241 billion.
- A year-over-year U.S. comparable sales increase of 1.7% excluding sales of fuel, compared with a 1.4% increase.
- Consolidated net income of $3.104 billion, down 20.2% from $3.889 billion.
For the first six months of fiscal 2018, Walmart reported:
- Net sales of $238.475 billion, up 1.7% from $234.391 billion a year ago.
- Consolidated net income of $6.256 billion, down 11.9% from $7.105 billion.