Word on Walmart: February 2021

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Walmart Media Group Becomes “Walmart Connect”

In late January Walmart announced that its in-house advertising agency, formally known as “Walmart Media Group”, will now take on the name “Walmart Connect”. This re-branding comes with a wave of new strategic announcements and capabilities from the platform, which is projected to become a top ten advertising agency in years to come. While Walmart Connect plans to grow its core online platform placements, more intriguing news comes from the announcement of a partnership with The Trade Desk to develop a Demand Side Platform (DSP) and expand its off-site offering to audio, connected TV, mobile and more. This DSP will also give advertisers more first-party customer data for targeting. With this announcement Walmart also released its plans to leverage its store footprint and 150+ million weekly omnichannel customers by building out advertising infrastructure for self-checkout and in-store display screens.

Source: Walmart Corporate Newsroom

Our Take

Walmart’s media arm continues to innovate and this rapid expansion comes as a refreshing surprise to many brands. This new list of options for media activations and uses of customer data will be a catalyst for the growth of this platform and enhancement of the Walmart customer experience. This new holistic media offering allows brands to follow their customers through the entire path-to-purchase—from media experience to the final purchase decision—improving calculation accuracy on investment returns. If your brand is not already activating with Walmart Connect, you are at risk of losing category share to competition and it is necessary to determine the correct path to activating in the Walmart ecosystem.

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Walmart U.S. E-Commerce CEO Steps Down

In late January, now former Walmart U.S. E-Commerce CEO, Marc Lore, announced on his LinkedIn page that he would be stepping down from his role within Walmart. Lore proceeded to reflect on his time at Walmart with gratitude for how it has changed his life and the lives of customers. Lore became part of the Walmart team when Jet.com was acquired in 2016. With his knowledge and know-how of the digital world, he led Walmart to several successful years of change and growth which have allowed Walmart to become the nimble e-commerce leader it is today. Lore will continue as an advisor to Walmart until September 2021.

Source: LinkedIn

Our Take

With Marc Lore’s departure, we anticipate Walmart will adapt to industry trends in a more structured and proven way. As Walmart looks to fill this gap in its leadership team, it will give both suppliers and customers a peak inside its future strategy and goals. Some analysts expect Walmart to promote from within its arsenal of e-commerce experts while others point towards the benefits of bringing new blood into the business to help propel it forward with a tech-focused lens.

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Investments In Technology Will Shape The Future of Walmart

Walmart recently made several announcements flaunting or declaring its plans to expand the use of technology in the Walmart ecosystem. The first announcement was a future-looking test for a technology that would make home delivery an option even without the customer being home to greet the associate. Walmart is currently testing this Home Valet smart box in limited locations. Along with expanding technology for its grocery delivery system, Walmart announced it will be expanding its Local Fulfillment Centers (LFC’s) that provide in-store back rooms for pickup orders without congesting stores with personal shoppers. Earlier this month Walmart also announced that it will be creating a fintech startup in partnership with Ribbit Capital whose current portfolio includes the well know investing app Robinhood.

Source: Walmart Corporate Newsroom

Our Take

This year has been filled with news of new features and activations for Walmart’s digital business, but it is clear we are only seeing the tip of the Walmart iceberg. With these new releases it becomes obvious that Walmart is identifying and targeting any shortcomings of its customers’ path to purchase. With data on customers financial lifestyle and the possibility of data from TikTok on what is “trending” before we even know it, Walmart is preparing the foundation for a completely different breed of retailer. With a flush of new data coming their way and their treasure trove of historical customer data from around 95% of US consumers, the only missing piece is a way for the retail giant to analyze this information. While we await more news on this direction within the business, we continue to see the use of Walmart’s digital assets and technology to create efficiencies and support its in store offering.

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Responding to Reviews is More Important Than Ever

Amazon recently announced that, effective immediately, brands will no longer have the ability to respond to customer reviews. We have seen an immediate impact on vendors as 78% of shoppers trust product reviews, and 87% of shoppers say they expect a brand to respond when they leave a negative review onsite. With this high of a demand for answers, consumers will turn to other retailers to determine whether a product’s quality and brand voice align with their buying intentions. what the shopper is looking for. More than ever people are utilizing their phones to check prices, reviews, responses and questions while shopping in stores. With high brand loyalty, and the almost universal unwritten rule among consumers that brands are expected to reply, review management should be a major focus in 2021.

Sources: Pew Research, Bazaarvoice 2020 Shopper Experience Survey

Our Take

The opportunity to build brand loyalty and own the narrative of a negative review at Walmart.com should be an immediate focus for brands in Q1. Walmart requires a third-party partnership to interact with any user-generated content (UGC) on Walmart.com. If a partnership does not exist, prioritize reaching out to one of the Walmart-approved partners and contact Sage Tree to begin building a Review Management strategy.

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Did You Know?

  • Walmart has provided a sneak peek at some upcoming Item 360 features, to learn more and for updates on when these activations will be available, check out Item 360 in Retail Link
      • Feature 1: Content submissions will route to an Associate for approval if your changes aren’t appearing on Walmart.com
      • Feature 2: Content improvement insights & recommendations
      • Feature 3: GDSN Item Setup improvements
      • Feature 4: Upload videos and other rich media for items
  • The New SQEP launches on Feb. 1. See November’s newsletter for more details of the program.

Source: Retail Link

Download the report here: Word on Walmart February 2021

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