Walmart Inc. plans to place its giant brick-and-mortar stores at the center of its strategy to take on its web-based retail rival Amazon.com Inc., Dow Jones reported.
Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon, outlining the plans at a strategy meeting, pitched a vision where the company’s stores and its retail shopping model is the base of an expanding array of complementary business lines, Dow Jones said.
The supercenters, shopping meccas of about 180,000 square feet where one can buy everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to clothes, televisions and sports equipment, could be the heart of a web of businesses that would drive profitable growth for the company.
The move comes as Walmart executives wrestle with the best way to compete with Amazon’s faster profit growth. Walmart has spent heavily on remodeling its stores, including revamping its produce departments with wider aisles and displays that echo premium grocers. Walmart’s shares have risen 29% this year.
Walmart plans to capitalize on its customer data to sell online advertising to brands, Dow Jones reported, citing an unidentified person familiar with the presentation given by company head. The company may offer warehouse and shipping capacity to third-party sellers to boost online sales at Walmart.com.
Walmart has held discussions with telecom companies to place 5G antennas on the roof of stores. The retailer also plans to build capacity for “edge computing,” which is where data is processed physically closer to collection points. That would make it faster than comparable cloud computing, which has applicability for autonomous driving, drones and other such things where a half-second speed gap could make a world of difference.
The retailer is already adding computing power to its stores to process data from new technologies such as floor-cleaning robots or freezer temperature sensors that alert staff if it’s too warm, which the company would be able to sell, according to the people familiar.
The company remains focused on cost cutting with its online businesses, Dow Jones said. Walmart has told men’s apparel brand Bonobos and outdoor retailer Moosejaw to stop losing money, according to the people familiar.
Walmart is also exploring a sale of its video streaming service Vudu, which it had acquired in 2010, according to a separate person familiar with the situation.