Retail behemoth Walmart Inc. announced last week it is getting into the retail software business—but not until next year.
The retailer, No. 2 in the Digital Commerce 360 2021 Top 1000, says it will start selling technology to help merchants offer in-store pickup. Walmart plans to market the software in early 2022 will help merchants show online shoppers’ items available to pick up in stores and help retailers show consumers multiple pickup options, including curbside and in-store. It also plans to sell mobile technology to help store associates efficiently pick items for store or curbside pickup and conduct more complex tasks. These include managing pickup substitutions, sending customers messages about their store pickup orders, and offering BOPIS and curbside check-in.
Walmart says the offerings will mark the first time it has sold its own technology to other retail brands. “We’ve built new capabilities to serve the evolving needs of our own customers, and we have a unique opportunity to use our experience to help other businesses do the same,” John Furner, CEO of Walmart U.S., said in a statement announcing the news. “Commercializing our technologies and capabilities helps us sustainably reinvest back into our customer value proposition.”
Walmart’s deal with Adobe
As part of the announcement, Walmart also said that early next year, merchants using Adobe’s Commerce Platform would be able to syndicate their product catalogs and list items for sale on Walmart Marketplace. Merchants will also have access to online and in-store fulfillment and pickup technologies from Walmart.
Adobe rival Shopify integrated with Walmart Marketplace in June 2020 and another Adobe competitor, BigCommerce, did so in February of 2021. Late last month, BigCommerce took things a step further by acquiring data feed management platform Feedonomics to help merchants more quickly and easily manage product data and listings across more than 100 global marketplaces and advertising channels, including Walmart’s.
“We’re still in the early stages of the integration, so we don’t have any merchants that are trialing the technologies yet,” said Peter Sheldon, senior director, commerce strategy at Adobe, in an email to Digital Commerce 360. “However, we have many customers with brick-and-mortar stores that have expressed interest in taking advantage of the omnichannel fulfillment capabilities as they become available.”
In addition, he said Adobe’s fee structure for the services would be based on the volume of orders processed using the technologies.
101 retailers in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 use Adobe’s Magento ecommerce platform. 47 use Shopify and 21 use BigCommerce.
BOPIS and curbside are on the rise
The percentage of buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) orders for retailers that offer the service has increased from 7% in January 2018 to 22% in June 2021, according to the latest Adobe Digital Economy Index. The index draws on data from more than 100 million unique product sales and over 1 trillion transactions.
Additionally, nearly half (43%) of consumers said they had ordered an item for in-store pickup in the last six months, according to a February 2021 Digital Commerce 360/Bizrate Insights survey of 1,052 shoppers, up from 41% a year earlier. And curbside showed major growth; 35% of shoppers used the service, compared with 13% a year earlier. Plus, 28% had used a store’s pickup parking space, up from 17% a year earlier. And even more, telling for retailers: many consumers plan to do more omnichannel shopping. For example, 33% of shoppers surveyed planned to do more in-store pickup in the next six months, 27% more curbside or drive up and 23% planned to use stores’ pickup parking spaces more often. Shoppers cited convenience (50%) and saving time (46%) as the top reasons for using BOPIS and curbside.
Retailers also predict shoppers will use omnichannel services more this year, according to early results from a Digital Commerce 360 July holiday survey of 64 online retailers. 52% of retailers said they expect buy online/curbside pickup adoption to increase this year. However, only 11% said they have made omnichannel investments so far in 2021 to grow their holiday sales. 11% of merchants said they will offer curbside pickup over the holidays and 15% will offer BOPIS. Additionally, 13% said they will improve omnichannel offerings specifically to better compete with Amazon this holiday season.
Consumers are likely using BOPIS and curbside more because more retailers are offering the services. In 2019, 201 Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 retailers offered buy online. pick up in store. In 2020, 240 did—a 19.9% increase. And curbside pickup growth skyrocketed over the same timeframe. A mere 15 retailers offered it in 2019 and that number swelled to 174 in 2020, a 596% increase.
Walmart isn’t the first online retailer to see the opportunity in selling internally developed services and technology. U.K. online grocer Ocado Group Plc. (No. 25 in the 2021 Digital Commerce 360 Europe 500), for example, operates an Ocado Technology unit that develops and sells robotics, machine learning, simulation, data science, forecasting and routing systems to other online grocers, including U.K.-based Morrisons, Canada’s Sobeys Inc., Groupe Casino (parent of Monoprix SA in France) and The Kroger Co. (No. 8 in the Top 1000) in the U.S. And electronics retailer and marketplace Newegg (No. 25 in the Top 1000) has ventured beyond selling products online in recent years by offering logistics, customer service and staffing services to other ecommerce-focused companies.Favorite