By Hannah Ash, contributing writer
Walmart’s CEO Doug McMillon recently spoke at the Code Conference and made something of a splash in doing so. McMillon credited Amazon with leading the world in innovations, stating, “Clearly, Amazon is teaching the world what’s possible.” Having taken the position as chief executive officer four months ago, McMillon says he considers himself a student of technology and has already taken three trips to @WalmartLabs in Silicon Valley. Despite McMillan’s clear admiration of Amazon’s technological prowess, he doesn’t show any signs of defeat or slowing down when it comes to online or offline commerce.
McMillon stated that Walmart plans to leverage its considerable spending power to ramp-up acquisitions of tech startups, stating that its “pace of acquisitions . . . is going to accelerate.” Having enjoyed online sales growth of 30 percent for the fiscal year ending January 31st, Walmart has set its eyes on larger growth. This growth, for the first time, surpassed Amazon’s growth (though not its online sales - yet). McMillon pointed out that Amazon is not Walmart’s only competition, citing chains such as Kroger and Costco as competitors in the online arena. Though McMillon clearly sees the need for continued e-commerce and omni-channel growth for Walmart, he also believes the big-box store may need to change and adapt along with the changes brought on by tech.
McMillon stated he can see a time in the future during which big-box supercenter style stores won’t be the go-to establishments they currently are. He indicated Walmart is flexible and ready to adapt as need be, stating, “If they [customers] don't want stores we don't have to have stores, having said that I think we will have stores in the future, but it will change.” McMillon forecasted that 3-D printing and wearable technology could become key aspects of the chain’s future, but reiterated that, with its 11,000 locations in 27 countries, the retail store will continue to be important. Although unclear as to where Walmart will go as it explores home grocery delivery, McMillion indicated that that ordering online and picking up in store is of interest to Walmart shoppers and is a key reason why his retail stores will continue to stay relevant.