A few weeks ago, Walmart held its annual Year-Beginning Meeting, and focused a few days on meeting with suppliers in Bentonville to outline its growth initiatives, goals, and tactics for the year ahead. We’re still synthesizing what it all means ahead of our Walmart Workshop in Bentonville, AR, on April 5. But before we meet with many of you down in Arkansas, I wanted to share the headlines that resonated most with me:

 

  • EDLP: Lest the emphasis on digital integration or retailtainment (see below) fool us, this is a retailer that is laser-focused on making low price leadership its calling card. Across the organization from Greg Foran to Steve Bratspies in merchandising, Judith McKenna in operations, and Tony Rogers in marketing, the number one priority going forward is to deliver low prices, every day.
  • Reset the Cost Structure: In service of those price investments—well underway—the retailer is looking to squeeze even more costs out. The demands start with continued asks for EDLC and continue with efforts to make everything from its supply chain to stocking its shelves even more efficient.
  • Brick and mortar and digital integration: Walmart confirmed the long-needed shifts to its merchandising organization to better align buying for items in the store and online. But as the retailer continues to acquire new retail touchpoints with shoppers, it only further complicates the picture for how suppliers should resource against them.
  • Store experience and retailtainment: Walmart’s investments in its stores continue, and going forward the retailer (and its suppliers) will be striking the tenuous balance between efficiency and excitement in-store driven by more events, demos, and creative merchandising.
  • Align with Walmart’s pillars or lose influence: As Walmart increasingly looks inward for strategic guidance—especially for insights and data—suppliers that elevate their strategic partnership with the retailer will have the best chance to win.

 

In an even shorter summation, Walmart has firmly retrenched itself in Productivity Loop orthodoxy, and has tightened its demands on suppliers to support those efforts—further increasing the cost to serve it. To gain more understanding of what all this means for your organization and your business, join us in Bentonville in two weeks for our Walmart Workshop, where we’ll spend the day discussing how to align with, support, and grow with your biggest customer as it undertakes significant shifts.

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