Two Walmart.com eCommerce executives met with suppliers on Thursday, March 30, at the Walstreet Speaker Series to share the retailer’s strategy insights and how Walmart suppliers can help Walmart with its omnichannel initiatives. Steve Breen, Senior Vice President of Merchandising at Walmart.com and Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer for Walmart eCommerce U.S began by highlighting the continued growth of eCommerce in the U.S.
U.S. eCommerce is estimated to grow, from just over $400 billion this year to $600 billion by 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The importance of the mobile device in this period of growth cannot be overstated, with $115 billion out of $343 billion in U.S. eCommerce sales last year being made from a mobile device. It was also noted that mobile devices heavily influence sales, even if sales were not made from a mobile device. Hilton said that many customers will move between devices, viewing items online before making a purchase in store.
“Shoppers use their mobile device to research items,” said Eric Howerton, CEO of WhyteSpyder. “When shoppers research but don’t transact online, this is known as the mobile gap or webrooming by some industry experts. This is a powerful reason for suppliers to provide best-in-class content to Walmart. Shoppers research online with their mobile device and make purchases both online and in-store. There is no wall between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar. Suppliers that see this clearly are winning.”
An emphasis was also made on category managers knowing their products as well as possible, with category expertise being essential to growing recent acquisition sites. Hilton went on to explain that these recent acquisition sites would not be brought in under the Walmart brand, but would have to exist and prosper apart from Walmart, with this separation benefiting Wal-Mart in the future.
The pair moved on to discuss Walmart’s strategy going forward, describing the eCommerce policy as the “Five Its”. The “Five Its” are as follows:
- Have It
- Find It
- Display It
- Price It
- Deliver It
Walmart wants to be sure that they have the brands and products that shoppers are looking for. Breen said that the top 1 million items sold online account for around two-thirds of online sales.
“Having it means it’s got to be on the website, got to be in stock and we’ve got to have it in our FC (Fulfillment Center) network,” added Hilton.
Products must be easy to find, easy to search for. Suppliers will need to furnish particular product content that will increase searchability. Search results need to be relevant to search queries. Breen made it clear that the terms that are most relevant for a category should always yield the most relevant results.
When a searched item comes up on screen, it needs to have amazing content. Product information online needs to fill the gap left by not being able to physically touch or hold a product. Breen emphasized the availability of product detail being a contributor to rich content. He said having accurate, detailed content, high resolution photographs, videos and more can make all the difference in converting searches and queries into sales.
“Give us all the products you have, provide great content and sales naturally go up,” added Scott. While many suppliers might have problems producing the necessary content, Breen went on to say that partnering with content service providers is another way to furnish that rich, engaging content.
Ensuring a competitive price will assist in attracting shoppers. Online prices and in-store prices will be aligned in an effort to instill a sense of trust among customers. The better price a supplier can attach to an item, the better an item can compete.
It is important to take responsibility to ensure that items purchased are either delivered or made available in store for pickup.
“We recognize that we have an obligation that once a customer orders from us, we have to deliver,” added Breen.
After explaining the “Five Its” strategy, the duo wrapped up the proceedings, allowing attendees to mingle and discuss the important aspects of what they had just heard.
“The message resonated throughout the Q&A session, is content, content, content”, said Alex Patterson of What’s Ahead?
“What’s going to differentiate Walmart from Amazon and other competitors, is delivering a great shopping experience. And, that begins with content. It is clear from today’s presentation Wlamart.com is committed to delivering an exceptional customer experience to ensure shoppers find what they want when they want it and for the best possible price,” added Patterson.
With the suppliers’ assistance and the “Five Its” strategy in place, Walmart is taking positive strides towards eCommerce domination. Looking around the Walstreet Speaker Series venue, it was easy to see that suppliers have heard Walmart loud and clear.
“We’ve all heard for years now content is king,” said Howerton. “But it’s not just any content that the shopper wants. They want content that allows them to quickly find relevant answers to their questions through search. They want content that clearly explains the product in detail. They want the best content possible. Shoppers are self-sufficient and rely on robots and peers to give confidence of making purchases. They want convenience. This is the type of content that they want, which is not the same content that’s in advertising or in-store marketing.”
Recap and photos provided by: WhyteSpyder