Wal-Mart execs talk change at annual meeting

Fayettville, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores president and CEO Doug McMillon told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting on Friday that the company would accelerate the pace of change going forward. Presiding over over his first shareholders’ meeting since being named chief executive, McMillon put a big emphasis on technology, saying that the chain needs to be “at the forefront of innovation and technology.”

“Customers will increasingly expect and require the best of both worlds,” McMillon said. “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. Walmart can bring together our stores with new digital commerce capabilities to help customers save money, save time, and have access to what they want and need.”

The annual meeting, which drew some 14,000 Wal-Mart associates from around the world, was held in the Bud Walton arena at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. In keeping with past shareholder meetings, the event was star-studded, starting with entertainer Harry Connick Jr., who served as the host. The event also included performances by top artists Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke.
McMillion said the company will serve customers through three core principles.

“First, we will be a customer-driven company,” he said. We've always said the customer is our boss and we'll make decisions based on how we can serve them better,  Second, we will invest in our people. As we change and grow, it will be our associates who will make the difference. Finally, we need to be at the forefront of innovation and technology.”

The retailer envisions a future where it is uniquely positioned to win at the intersection of digital and physical. To do so, McMillon and other top executives described how the company is making acquisition and investments in its global eCommerce organization and big data analytical capabilities even as it continues to expand its brick-and-mortar footprint.

“We are integrating digital retail and physical retail to create one seamless, customer-driven Walmart experience. This is providing our shoppers with more value, more time, and greater access,” said Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Walmart Global eCommerce.

The retailer’s ecommerce business is on track to grow to about $13 billion this year from $10 billion last year, but McMillion and Ashe were adamant about the opportunity to go faster.

“Our stores, 11,000 and growing, will provide access and convenience. If you need it right here, right now, we've got it,” said McMillon. “We will run great stores and clubs with great associates. We'll keep adding services and pick-up points to our stores to become even more convenient. 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.”

McMillon said that Walmart will develop new capabilities to serve customers in new ways.

“It is important that we all understand the shift that has happened in technology and retail, what it means for us and what we’re doing to win. There’s a lot of innovation and opportunity available to us.” McMillon said.


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