Wal-Mart Stores: Fighting Back


SeekingAlpha.com

Summary

In a world spiraling towards e-commerce which is dominated by Amazon, Wal-Mart is fighting back by reinventing itself as a technology company with physical stores.

Wal-Mart’s secret weapon is its Data Café: a state of the art, analytics hub which is the world’s largest private cloud.

Wal-Mart will enjoy PE expansion if it succeeds at this transformation.
Leverage 55 years of Experience and Assets

Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) is the world’s largest retailer with $485 billion revenue in its fiscal year 2017, $14 billion profit after tax, and an operating cash flow of $31 billion. It has over 11, 600 stores in 28 countries. In U.S. alone, it has 4,700 stores which is located within a ten-mile vicinity of 90% of the U.S. population. Effectively, this is a very powerful and cost-effective delivery network as it expands its e-commerce platform.

For the past 55 years, when Sam Walton first founded this discount store in 1962 and disrupted the entire retail industry then, it has grown in financial strength by disciplined growth, capital allocation and delivering an EDLP (Every Day Low Pricing) policy for its customers. Over the past decade, as buying habits are dramatically remolded by online e-commerce, Wal-Mart has lost market share and its revenue growth declined. But it is not dead. On the contrary, it has quietly been amassing assets to fight this inevitable battle for customers’ dollars.
Goal: Transform into a technology company

Big Data and Data Café is at the heart of this transformation. Wal-Mart now can chew and spit 40 petabytes of data, and to give its management and associates “real time” solutions to complex business problems, which in the past, would have taken weeks to compile, compute and analyze. This ability has far reaching benefits: from increased sales, more efficient inventory control, supply chain management, merchandising, efficient delivery options, and climate control and the switching of lights in the stores.

Wal-Mart is using technology both online and offline to maximize the seamless experience for its customers. For example, customers can elect to pick up their online orders at a Wal-Mart location. Instead of having to go inside the store, customers can pick up their order at an automated pickup tower which looms 16 feet tall and holds 300 small to mid-size packages. As the customer walks towards the tower, its doors would automatically open. A screen scans the mobile receipt and the bar code, and disburses the packages. Viola!

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