The new year is a great time to think about what’s next in the grocery industry. That’s exactly what happened when I attended his CES show in Las Vegas this month.
The annual event bills itself as the world’s most influential tech event, and perhaps that’s no exaggeration. The show will see more than 100,000 attendees and his 3,200 exhibitors this year, drawing crowds from all over the world to give a glimpse of what the future holds.
We put on some really nice walking shoes and braved the crowded halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center to get a tangible glimpse of the technological breakthroughs likely to come to the grocery industry. See more metaverse vendors (“immersive metaverse experiences”!), connected fleet technologies, haptic solution providers, hologram customer service kiosks, automated grocery delivery vehicles (electric of course), AI supply chain solutions, virtual reality, augmented reality technology, and more. I came. , amazing advancements in wearable shopping and health gadgets.
[Read more: “The Grocer’s Guide to Tech”]
But it was Walmart’s panel session on January 4th that really set the vision for the future of the grocery retail industry.
Walmart Chief Revenue Officer Seth Dalea moderated the session, which was also joined by Walmart Chief Economist John List. Cheryl Ainoa, Senior Vice President of New Business and Emerging Technologies. Julie Barber, EVP, General Merchandise. Jill Toscano, Vice President of Media.
Walmart presented a three-pronged omni approach to the future of food retail. This approach is called customer-centricity and focuses on retail media, augmented reality and social commerce. Walmart, with the help of partners, is leveraging these three technologies to deliver “superservices” to the evolving American shopper, whether it’s private label toilet paper, freshly baked rotisserie chicken, or a new pair of chickens. and plans to be the first choice for everything. jeans.
Barber, an 18-year Walmart veteran, elaborated on the first part of Walmart’s approach: retail media and data analytics. Her team met with teams at Walmart Connect (a retailer’s advertising business) and Luminate (a data platform for retailers’ suppliers) to ask, “What do customers want to buy, what have they been buying, and how? We should think of that, and then we can make a plan with our suppliers, and when we get those products, we say, ‘Make sure they show up in stores and online. What should I do about it?’
List, who joined Walmart just nine months ago as its first chief economist, said his direction was to make Walmart better, where the company could use economics and data to improve the customer experience. I said that it is to think about whether it is possible.
“Data is the new oil, and we often hear that data will be the most valuable resource on the planet. It’s a refinery,” List said. “We all have data. We all have tons of data. …We need to be great little improvers to actually drive business decisions.”
Barber said one of Walmart’s areas of interest is in health and wellness.
“Walmart has spent a lot of time thinking about the technology they need in their stores for their employees and customers during COVID-19. I think there are areas,” she commented.
Barber said Walmart has evolved into something more than just a “store business” and has become fully omnidirectional.
“I think we have moved away from a lot of people and suppliers who think of Walmart as a store business and have started to prove in the last few years that it is more than a store business. We have a business and it’s growing,” Barber said. “Right now, suppliers come to us and say, ‘I heard you did this for one of our private label products, but it’s sold out.’ And people are really starting to see it, we have a lot of traffic on our site and a lot of traffic on our stores.”
Ainoa explained the accelerated adoption of augmented reality at Walmart. “Our mission for emerging technologies is simple: How do we start discovering inspiration and needs, and how do we take the distance, time, and friction from identifying inspiration or needs to actually meet those needs? Inspiration can be found in Walmart stores, the Walmart app, social channels, or watching your favorite shows on Roku Consumers get inspired, create needs But we want to reduce the time and distance required to meet that need.”
Retailers plan to use more AR and AI to power related tools as well as purchase paths, she said.
Ainhoa then spoke about how Walmart is moving away from its previous strategy and doing many things online first.
“We’re seeing trends in what comes online first. It might start with third-party marketplaces,” she said. “The problem is, we know so much data about our customers that we’re like, ‘We think it’s really important to go into this subset of stores based on who’s buying these probiotics.'” Our team gets Pinterest search terms, trends and more every week and says, ‘Wow, people are starting to look for this. Do you think this is a long term trend?Maybe I should buy this for Halloween’or whatever it is. You know… when you make a TikTok about something, the product sells out quickly. ”
Ainoa also reiterated the value of Walmart’s Roku partnership.
“With TV advertising, you can’t really measure results accurately, and our T-commerce partnership with Roku gives us that first-hand information,” said Ainoa. “We know exactly how many times it has been viewed and we can map that to actual purchases. , booked in other ways, so we really look at our customers and how they want to find things, who they want to impress, who they want to connect with. We provide matching experiences to instill confidence in your purchases and show you how we can deliver that you want to get them.
Meanwhile, Toscano has joined Walmart’s burgeoning social commerce business.
“The world has changed quite a lot, and one of those changes is that 302 million Americans are spending more than two hours a day on social platforms,” said Toscano. “What they’re giving to these networks is a huge amount of attention.” I mentioned that the evaluation is included.
“Product discovery no longer happens through aisles and searches,” she continued. Toscano cited some of the things Walmart is doing in this space. That includes a partnership with Roku, which is producing “really amazing results that we are looking to scale.”
Toscano indicated that Walmart is also focusing on monetizing live streams and content creation with its new creator platform. All of these initiatives are designed to really measure the impact of where your marketing and media investments are made.
“ROAS is no longer the only source of truth,” she said. “It’s a key metric, but it’s not a metric. So we think about high-value actions in addition to ROAS. We think about customer lifetime value, we think about contribution margin. Consider how it will affect performance: Another key partner of ours told us that their highly effective video ad unit over the holidays led to a significant increase in searches It’s not that video that’s expected to drive X amount of traffic or represent the most efficient ROAS, so knowing that can help you make investment decisions, but it’s also very complementary We know that there is a positive impact in marketing, so the conversion aspect of marketing investment and how it works together is the justification for that investment.”
Walmart’s aggressive forays into retail media, augmented reality, and social commerce are a harbinger of what’s to come for the grocery industry this year, the year everyone looks to boost omnichannel profitability.
Every week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s over 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company employs approximately 2.3 million people worldwide. Walmart US is #1 on Progressive Grocer’s PG 100 list of 2022 North American Food and Consumables Retailers.