How Years of Omnichannel Investment Prepared Walmart for a Pandemic

By Korey Betts, Team Leader for Walmart.com, Vendo  

While state and local governments mandated stay-at-home orders and citizens took precaution due to COVID-19, Walmart uniquely positioned themselves to win – despite current events – after years of major omni channel investments. 

Why are consumers gravitating to Walmart during this crisis?   

Consumer convenience has been at the forefront of Walmart’s omni channel strategy. Since Walmart launched their Online Grocery Pickup app in 2015, they have had a strong focus on how to utilize their 4,500+ store footprint to best service consumers however they choose to shop. The Walmart app allows consumers to receive the same low prices as they would in store with no fees for Pickup and a $9.99 fee for home delivery. Over the previous five years, Walmart has equipped 3500+ stores for Pickup and over 2,000+ stores with delivery capabilities, covering more than 80% of the U.S. population. Today, during a global pandemic, Walmart’s investments have paid off as the retailer is reporting record sales. Walmart’s Q1 earnings statement highlighted a 74% increase in ecommerce sales while showing a decrease in losses, which is attributed to Walmart’s recent expansion of offerings on the app to include general merchandise goods that carry higher margins. 

The Rise of the Walmart App 

According to App Annie, a tracking website for app download data, Walmart ranked in the 300’s of most downloaded apps prior to COVID-19. But once businesses shut down and the seriousness of the pandemic set in, consumers quickly adopted click-and-collect and home delivery technology as a means to purchase everyday goods usually reserved for trips to the local supermarket. Walmart today ranks as a top 30 most downloaded app and peaked at #9 during the month of May 2020; topping rival Amazon for the #1 most downloaded Shopping app during the pandemic. As current events continue to re-shape consumer’s everyday purchase behavior, the data suggests that technology and convenience have become a new way of life.  

What’s Next for Walmart’s Omni Channel Vision? 

Walmart has showed that the brick & mortar store will be at the center of their go-forward omni channel strategy. During the pandemic, Walmart has temporarily tasked more than 2,500 of their stores to serve as shipping locations for Walmart.com orders. Due to the proximity of Walmart stores to consumers, utilizing stores as shipping hubs for dotcom orders has allowed for a reduction in “last mile” delivery costs. Walmart will continue enhancing consumer convenience and reducing ship times by increasing the amount of fulfillment centers processing Walmart.com orders. To offer more assortment, Walmart has launched a program comparable to Amazon FBA called Walmart Fulfillment Services which will encourage more 3P sellers onto the site.  

In summary, Walmart’s versatility and focus on winning with the customer has allowed them to evolve into the retailer they are today.  As COVID-19 will no doubt leave a lasting impact on consumers, Walmart will have continued success by offering shoppers multiple purchase options on a wide assortment at a low price.  

Disclaimer: Vendo has no affiliation with Walmart.