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Industry NewsWalmart.com ramps up hiring in bid to beat Amazon

Walmart.com ramps up hiring in bid to beat Amazon

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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Walmart.com is hiring hundreds of workers at its tech operations just outside of San Francisco to boost its free two-day shipping offer for online orders as part of its continuing competition with Amazon Prime.

“We are in the process of hiring hundreds of merchandise and category specialists for Walmart.com,” Ravi Jariwala, spokesman for Walmart.com, told Mercury News.

Walmart.com’s goal is to improve the customer experience, so it’s shifting resources and investments to that effort, the news report says. The company recently launched free two-day shipping on orders of US$35 or more, with no subscription required. That’s a direct challenge to the Amazon.com offering of free two-day shipping for customers who have signed up for the Amazon Prime service, which costs $99 a year, or $10.99 a month.

The Walmart.com initiatives highlight the pressure retailers face in competing with each other and with Amazon’s vast array of goods and services. “Every traditional retailer is trying to come up with a winning formula for its online channel,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wells Fargo.

Walmart.com also is pushing – through its online grocery options – free pickup of groceries bought on the Walmart website.

Over the past six months, Walmart has acquired e-commerce firms Jet.com, Shoebuy and Moosejaw. “We are shifting our investments and building up teams that can launch two-day shipping and other customer-facing initiatives that further enhance the digital shopping experience,” Jariwala said.

While many retailers struggled over the holidays, Walmart unwrapped rising revenue and e-commerce sales during the important holiday quarter. Revenue, excluding currency, increased three per cent to US$133.6 billion in the retailer’s fourth quarter 2016. Comparable store sales in the Walmart U.S. business grew 1.8 per cent, driven by a 1.4 per cent increase in customer traffic, according to a Retail Info Systems News report.

As the industry tries to adapt to a new omnichannel reality, Walmart has been accelerating its e-commerce growth through acquisitions and bringing on Marc Lore as CEO of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business, the report says.

“We saw strong growth this quarter in the Walmart U.S. e-commerce business with GMV and sales growth of 36 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively,” said Brett Biggs, executive vice-president and CFO.

The company also reported an uptick in its e-commerce business since its January 31, 2017 switch to free two-day shipping with a minimum order of $35.

“Our integrated offering means customers are shopping with us through multiple channels. In fact, over the holidays, Pickup Today, which is available in Walmart U.S. stores, grew by 27 per cent over last year,” said Biggs.

Walmart said it is now the second-largest U.S. online retailer by revenue, one of the top three online retailers by traffic and its Walmart app is among the top three apps in retail.

Walmart is rolling out new capabilities in the Walmart app in March and a new store experience that allows customers to skip traditional service lines using “express lanes” in these areas. The company has also been experimenting with customer experience initiatives, opening two new Supercenters in Florida and Texas, with features like scan-and-go, touch-screens where customers can access more items on Walmart.com, virtual item displays, and an integrated Health & Wellness section.

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