Walmart is on the offensive
If it feels like there’s been a lot of news lately about Walmart, you’re not imagining things.
Walmart, it seems has launched an offensive a several fronts, going after competitive retailers in specific product categories and promoting feel-good programs such a pledge to hire veterans and increase the sourcing of U.S. made products.
Readers would be forgiven if they thought this blog is solely devoted to Walmart. Because right now, in retail, it does seem to be all about Walmart.
It all seems to be part of an orchestrated effort a while in the making, starting with a string of operational initiatives only now becoming public.
First, there was the opening of a new convenience store-sized format, Walmart to Go, positioned to compete against gas stations. There are up to 300 small format stores planned for this year, an increase from previously announced numbers, all positioned to better compete with dollar stores and grocers. Add to that plans to populate food deserts with new stores, and it looks like Walmart wants to do business where no other competitor cares to go.
There was a springtime sale for lawn and garden, pointedly targeting home improvement retailers Home Depot HD +0.32% and Lowe’s, and a new trade-in program for video games — a clear bid for the Game Stop customer. Even more telling is this quote included in the official announcement for the game program:
“Gaming continues to be an important business for us and we’re actively taking aim at the $2 billion pre-owned video game opportunity,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart U.S. “When we disrupt markets and compete, our customer wins. They’ll save money on video games and have the flexibility to spend it however they want.
Disrupting markets is what Walmart does best.
I’ve attended a half dozen retail conferences already this year and Walmart has had a speaker at all of them. From a retail industry association’s conference for supply chain executives to SXSW and even Forbes’ Reinventing America, there is a small army of Walmart executives are out in a concerted effort the likes of which I’ve not seen before from this retailer.
And for once, there is a strong consumer focus to much of this messaging as Walmart works to polish its image and leverage social media for good.
Retailers better fasten their seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy road as Walmart looks to be on the offensive. As for me, I’ll be happy to get back to covering a broader spectrum of retailers as they attempt to compete.