The e-tailer industry boom of the late ’90s and early 2000s disrupted many retailers’ core business models at the time—including that of Walmart. The big-box retailer took a page out of the ecommerce playbook to expand its online ecosystem through enhanced product data and content to stay competitive.
Fast forward to 2021 and the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic only increased ecommerce demands, with Walmart hitting 97% annual growth in fiscal Q2 2021.
By leveraging online and in-store data, Walmart better predicts and manages its supply chain—an enormous asset that allows the company to compete in the COVID-19 era and beyond. Here are some of the ways Walmart used customer insights to drive its ecommerce strategy successfully.
Harmonizing the customer and user experience
A thriving marketplace relies on the ability not only to understand but control the customer experience. Key performance indicators like SEO keywords, clicks and conversions drive ecommerce success. Still, Walmart’s access to consumer purchase insights from over 4,700 stores across the U.S. creates a business advantage that e-tailers lack.
In today’s increasingly competitive retail market, the ability to easily modulate data across channels to meet shifting consumer needs is essential. Store layouts, signage and wayfinding systems and product placements leverage more traditional marketing tactics to drive impulse purchases, like the smell of freshly baked bread, which drives Walmart’s bakery sales during certain hours.
Therefore, a physical store uncovers innate motivations and reveals buying trends you wouldn’t necessarily see online. This vantage point makes purchase patterns easier to spot, duplicate and transfer—facilitating a highly customizable consumer experience that increases brand equity and drives more sales.
Replicating the ecommerce playbook
While e-tailer models provide a speed and fluidity that originally went unmatched by traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, Walmart not only kept pace but adapted.
The company is continuously enhancing its distribution channels, like the new “Big Save” online event and Walmart+—two buying program initiatives that rival Amazon’s capabilities. And at the end of the day, Walmart still has the third most-trafficked ecommerce and shopping site in the U.S. Between past successes and current contemporary strategies, Walmart continues to drive steady growth with no end in sight.
Achieving a streamlined supply chain
Disjointed and inaccurate product data can create avoidable revenue losses. With the emerging trends and growth of ecommerce, operational efficiency is a necessity. Deploying a logistics strategy that aligns with every step of the supply chain—from inventory and distribution to delivery—requires a fully integrated system that is easy to update and optimize over time.
Walmart continues to advance the way it uses data and content through synchronization. This ensures data is accurate, consistent, and accessible—facilitating product point discovery for customers and manufacturers and stakeholders. This integration allows Walmart to spend less time and resources hunting down accurate product data and more time catering to the customer experience. And an efficient supply chain that reduces shipping and operational costs unlocks new business profits—on and offline.
The combination of Walmart’s streamlined physical operations and growing ecommerce marketplace drives sustainable growth and profitability that may be hard to compete with post-pandemic. Even in an increasingly digital world, it’s important not to discount the in-person experience. Backed by its successful brick-and-mortar footprint and recent ecommerce strategies, Walmart has the potential to outpace leading e-tailers as an online marketplace leader.
1WorldSync is a provider of product content technology.