Walmart’s Quest to Stay Relevant

I like many others, am watching Walmart closely right now. It’s not surprising to see how relentless this legacy giant is about staying relevant.

Until Amazon came along, Walmart seemed untouchable. So much so, that brands approached them with reverence and even fear. While there is still a lot of that, Walmart has no choice but to look at Amazon with the same reverence. So they’re watching every move as they try to play catch up to the number one U.S. retailer. Now Amazon is paying attention.

As an Amazon devotee, it’s hard for me to imagine Walmart catching up in online retail, but they sure are trying. And marketers could learn a thing or two. Here’s what Walmart is up to. And what any Legacy Brand could learn from their journey.

Win big by gaining new consumers

You’ve probably seen Walmart in the news for buying up niche retail websites like ModCloth, Moosejaw, and Shoebuy. This comes on the heels of its multi-billion dollar acquisition of, and the subsequent installation of Jet founder Marc Lore as head of U.S. online operations.

For the first time Walmart will let these sites run independently. That’s important because it allows the brands to maintain their integrity. That is proven way for a legacy brand gain new consumers without alienating their existing base. Walmart has the cash and logistics to support growth of these businesses, while these niche websites allow Walmart to expand its offerings to consumers they probably wouldn’t have reached with the Walmart brand.

Watch who is winning and learn, learn, learn

Is Walmart taking a play out of Kroger’s book? By acquiring regional chains as a strategy, Kroger has been successful at winning more of the market and have expanded their offerings. Kroger knew there wasn’t much need for new competition in grocery stores, so they grew by acquiring brands in the space they wanted to be in. For Walmart, buying hot ecommerce brands is setting the foundation to pull in front of Amazon with a diverse network of product offerings. Who will they acquire next?

Stay relevant to existing consumers

On the brick and mortar front, Walmart has focused on investment in tech research, installing pick-up kiosks to accommodate online orders, and lowering prices, thus improving the consumer experience. Translation: consumers who already loved Walmart are being offered more and more reasons to stay loyal. The idea is to keep these customers coming back for what they are already buying and much more.

Think like Amazon: Innovate for tomorrow’s consumer

While Walmart is innovating for today’s consumer, Amazon is already innovating for tomorrow’s. We know like other struggling online grocers, Amazon Fresh has performed well below expectations, and now we wait to see what happens when Amazon Go to open its doors. I see major potential for Amazon Go as a boon for customers and marketers. What makes Amazon Go really cool and promising is that it offers convenience that competitors can’t. Amazon Go will allow consumers the experience of picking out their food in person, without the hassle of lines and traditional checkout. Amazon thinks they have found a sweet spot. We’ll all have to wait and see.

Marketers, what’s your plan to get ahead in this digital world where things seem to change every single second? Do you have what it takes to constantly innovate and grow? What will it take to make sure your brand isn’t just profitable, it’s Irresistible. Are you ready? Let’s talk.

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