Walmart is exiting 2017 as a radically different and far more progressive company than the one that entered the year. No longer is the world’s largest retailer an also-ran in digital. The transformation that began in mid-2016, when it acquired e-commerce upstart Jet.com for a record $3.3 billion, gained speed and scope as 2017 unfolded, with Walmart scooping up a series of smaller, niche-focused digital brands, including outdoor retailer Moosejaw, women’s vintage apparel site ModCloth and men’s clothier Bonobos. Each deal gave Walmart a diverse set of new products and services as well as broad new demographic appeal, especially among millennials.
Most of all, the acquisitions gave Walmart the customer data it needs to go toe-to-toe with Amazon, the world’s most customer-centric retailer. For years Amazon flourished while Walmart floundered, not because the Jeff Bezos-helmed juggernaut offers more or better products than Walmart but because inherent in its business model is the ability to literally know its customers as individuals it can identify on a 1:1 basis within its ecosystem. Armed with identity, Amazon exploits every bit of information customers leave behind to develop new product lines and services that fewer and fewer consumers can live without: As of fall 2017, its Prime premium loyalty program totals an estimated 90 million subscribers, up 25 million in just one year.
All of which left Walmart with little choice but to build out its own identity asset. Landing digital natives such as Jet and Bonobos and integrating their respective troves of first-party customer insight turbocharged that effort and suggested new avenues of exploration. Walmart now poses a real threat to Amazon’s business, thanks to its dramatic strides in omnichannel retail (for example, a partnership with Google making Walmart products available via the Google Express shopping service and through Google’s voice-activated devices) as well as a burgeoning digital advertising platform and other compelling data-driven initiatives.
Source:: AdAge – Digital