Customer-Centricity Comes Into Focus At Wal-Mart Annual Shareholders Meeting

  • June 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM EDT
  • By Alicia Esposito
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During the annual shareholders meeting, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. executives outlined plans to serve customers and improve brand experience by leveraging three core principles: customer-centricity, ongoing innovation in technology, and increased investment in store associates.

The retail giant hosted up to 14,000 shareholders, including thousands of associates from 27 countries at the event, which took place in Bentonville, Ark.

By becoming a customer-driven company, Walmart will focus on making decisions “based on how we can serve them better,” said Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, during the shareholders meeting.

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McMillon explained that with the ongoing evolution of the omnichannel consumer, they will “expect and require the best of both worlds. They want the excitement and the immediacy of shopping in a physical store and the freedom to shop whenever, however and wherever they want. They want an experience that seamlessly adapts to their life.”

Services and pick-up points will be added to Walmart’s 11,000 stores so customers can receive this best of both worlds, and acquire the products they need quickly and seamlessly, according to McMillon. For example, the company is piloting a program in North Carolina that will allow customers to order Supercenter merchandise at a rural Express store and receive it the same day.

“We’ll also strive to have collection points wherever our customers want us to be, and we’ve seen the demand for food delivery in places like the U.K., Mexico and China. And of course, we’ll keep improving our traditional e-Commerce offering of ordering online and shipping to customers’ homes.”

Due to the ongoing growth of its e-Commerce business, Walmart will be considering new ways to bridge the digital and physical retail worlds to create one seamless experience.

“This is providing our shoppers with more value, more time, and greater access,” said Neil Ashe, President and CEO of Walmart Global e-Commerce. “We are helping people save money in new and convenient ways so they can live a better life. And we’re doing it by bringing together the best of e-commerce and the best of retail.”

Walmart’s wealth of customer data will be a valuable asset in its efforts for creating a personalized omnichannel experience. Data is “more organized, more analyzed and more visualized than ever,” noted Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club. Having ongoing access to this information is helping Walmart make faster and smarter business decisions, as well as personalize service for customers and members. “Retailers that lead on data and personalization will be the retailers of the future.”

During his presentation, McMillon noted that Walmart will be “investing in our people” to help its associates become more empowered and equipped to do their jobs. “I’m proud of the jobs and opportunities we offer, and we can do an even better job of creating opportunities to learn and grow.”

New programs are being created, and associates are being offered more flexible work schedules to support their unique situations, according to Bill Simon, President and CEO of Walmart U.S. “We’re redefining what it means to work at Walmart and we’re going to be even clearer about what it takes for associates to advance.”

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