Walmart looks to e-commerce for growth
New York — Walmart is emphasizing e-commerce for growth, said Neil Ashe, the chain’s president and CEO of global e-commerce, said during an investor presentation Wednesday morning.
Speaking at the Barclay’s 2013 Retail and Consumer Discretionary Conference in New York, Ashe laid out a vision for Walmart’s approach to e-commerce that involves home-grown technology, a deeper integration with physical stores and a dramatic expansion of product assortments because Walmart is one of the few companies who has brand permission to sell everything to everyone.
He also said Walmart was committed to being at the forefront of technological innovation and this week planned to introduce a new home page that reflects how people want to shop. Ashe said Walmart’s simple, yet audacious e-commerce goal is to, “know every product and person in the world and have ability to connect them.” To do so, Ashe said Walmart made a decision last year to in-source development of its technology which led to the creation of a proprietary search engine.
“We can’t do what we need to do and want to do with off the shelf solutions,” Ashe said.
Development of the search engine and other technological capabilities are essential to the philosophy outline by Ashe which calls for Walmart to excel at the fundamentals of e-commerce.
“If you want to build something really big that is going to last forever you better get the foundation right,” Ashe said.
In addition to technology, Ashe also described other foundational elements of Walmart’s approach as customer acquisition and retention, category development and assortment, customer experience and fulfilling promises.
Although Ashe, who joined Walmart in January 2012, characterized e-commerce as Walmart’s next growth engine he made no reference to Walmart.com’s sales or financial contribution and there was scant discussion of other performance metrics aside publicly available details from third parties. For example, Walmart.com has 45 million unique monthly visitors and the company’s home delivery operation in the United Kingdom is the second largest.
Walmart currently has an e-commerce presence in 10 countries, but is primarily focused on driving growth in the U.S., China, Brazil and the United Kingdom, where an investor field trip was held last week.
Domestically, Ashe was asked about the impact of the Marketplace Fairness Act and the impact of a level taxation playing field. He quoted former Walmart president and CEO Lee Scott who once questioned how a 5% to 10% price difference wasn’t a competitive advantage. According to Ashe, Walmart sees its best growth in states where sales taxes are collected from all players.
Walgreens opens Boston flagship
Deerfield, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday will celebrate the official opening of its latest flagship, located at School and Washington streets in Boston. The store is located in an old Borders store.
“Walgreens is thrilled to provide a flagship location — unlike any traditional drug store — in the thriving and resilient Downtown Crossing neighborhood,” stated Mark Wagner, Walgreens president of operations and community management. “We are transforming into a retail health and daily living destination that offers our customers unique and exceptional experiences to help them get, stay and live well.”
In recognition of the work by first responders following the tragic events earlier this month in the Boston area, Walgreens is presenting donations during the May 1 grand-opening ceremony totaling more than $100,000 to the following local organizations: Boston Police Relief Association, Boston Fire Department Children’s Fund, Boston EMS Relief Association and One Fund Boson.
The new store will showcase the "Boston Moves Kiosk." For consumers who interact with the Boston Moves portal, Walgreens gives residents the opportunity to join the city’s health initiative to lose 1 million pounds and move 10 million miles. The kiosk also lets users enroll in Balance Rewards, Walgreens customer loyalty program.
The store’s expanded features also include an enhanced pharmacy designed to encourage greater interaction between pharmacists and patients. The pharmacy also features an “Ask Your Pharmacist” desk, consultation rooms and an Express Rx kiosk for convenient checkout.
A LOOK Boutique beauty department featuring many prestige and niche cosmetic, skincare and hair care brands not typically found in drug stores is nearby. The beauty section will also display a broad selection of Britain’s leading skincare brand, No7, created by Boots. Specially-trained beauty advisors are on hand to offer guidance finding the best solutions for individual needs.
Befitting a flagship store, Walgreens will provide a robust selection of beer, wine and spirits and quality products appropriate to celebrate special occasions. A Beverage Wizard kiosk provides food and beverage pairing recommendations. And an outdoor café that acts as an extension of the interior space will feature patio seating.
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Dollar General to hire 10,000 employees in May
Goodlettsville, Tenn. — To support its strong growth and fill current vacancies, Dollar General is planning to hire 10,000 employees in May for its store and distribution center locations. Career fairs to recruit candidates will be held throughout the month in the 40 states the company serves.
“Dollar General is seeking to hire people with the attitude, aptitude and ambition to build a career with us and support our mission of Serving Others,” said Rick Dreiling, Dollar General’s chairman and CEO. “With growth and development opportunities, industry-recognized training programs and a culture of helping our employees grow and develop their skills, this national hiring initiative is a great opportunity for people to join the Dollar General team and to grow with us as we continue to strengthen and expand our business across America.”
On Saturday, May 18, Dollar General will host a national hiring fair at approximately 170 locations for available store employment opportunities in the 40 states it serves. Hiring fairs at the company’s distribution centers will be held throughout the month.
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