Walmart is preparing for a new era of retail with major new partnerships and investments in technology.
“We have the opportunity to reimagine retail again,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon said in a keynote speech at Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting on Friday.
Walmart may have fallen behind in the e-commerce race, but, at the shareholders meeting McMillion and other executives have been eager to forecast a new, digitally-focused future for Walmart.
Top on the list in reimagined retail is Walmart’s partnership with Lyft and Uber.
Within two weeks, the retailer is launching a pilot program with Uber in Denver, and with Lyft in Phoenix. Customers buying groceries online will have the option to have their order delivered, for the existing delivery fee of $7 to $10.
The Lyft and Uber partnerships are far from the only examples of new technology that Walmart is eager to promote. By the end of June, Walmart plans to offer Walmart Pay in every store in the US. Additionally, the company has recently announced unlimited two-day shipping from Walmart.com, as the retailer expands its online inventory.
The company is growing its online grocery business, expanding services to 14 additional markets by the end of June. Online grocery is currently available in 40 markets, or roughly 200 stores.
Walmart is even developing a drone, intended to replace the jobs of inventory quality assurance employees at massive distribution centres.
“We’re connecting all the parts of Walmart into one seamless shopping experience with great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, and apps and websites that are simple to use,” said McMillion.
However, even as Walmart increases its sometimes futuristic investments in tech, the company is also doubling down on employees.
In his speech, McMillion outlined three steps for Walmart’s reinvention: supporting Walmart employees, serving customers, and serving communities.
“As the world becomes more digital, it will be the humanity of Walmart that differentiates us and wins with customers,” McMillon said. “Our investments in education and training, store structure, wages, hours and sales floor technology are to support you and enable you to serve your customers and members.”
Since Walmart committed last year to investing $2.7 billion over two years in wage increases, scheduling improvements, and employee training, the retailer’s customer-service scores have increased for 79 weeks straight.
Keeping up with the competition in terms of tech and customers service have been two of Walmart’s biggest hurdles.
Walmart may be investing big in tech, but it is also now seeing results in investing in employees. Right now, it looks like Walmart’s chance to “reimagine retail” will require both.
Richard Feloni contributed to this story.
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