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3 Takeaways from CES Walmart Innovation Panel

January 18, 2020By Kara Rousseau, Head of Marketing at Walmart Media Group

160 million people. That's the number of people who shop at Walmart every week. Our customer base is truly a mirror reflection of the US population in age, ethnicity, geography and income.

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Our mission has long been to save customers money. It is who we are and that won't change. But, as customers are busier than ever, we have a responsibility to help save them time, too. We have a unique opportunity to make not only their shopping experience better, but their day better.

Today's shopping journey is becoming increasingly disjointed and contains an indefinite number of touchpoints. It can start anywhere and head in any direction. It's not defined by either a digital or physical path - it's defined by both. The way consumers like to shop today is a harmonious integration of online and offline experiences.

New technology ushers in new possibilities, but every innovation at Walmart must deliver on our promise to better serve busy families. Last week at #CES2020, our GM & VP, Stefanie Jay, hosted a panel "Evolution through Innovation" to delve into how the convergence of retail, media and technology can keep brands closer to the customer.

At this panel, we discussed three main ways Walmart is innovating for and serving the time starved busy families:

1.   We innovate to solve customer pain points

Our customers have made it amply clear that they want new ways to save money AND time. Many to a point that they feel saving money isn't worth it if it's too time consuming.

Store maps is a great example of innovation that allows customers to search for an item and find the correct aisle location to help save time. Last year, according to Sensor Tower's analysis, Walmart was the most downloaded app on Black Friday – with store maps being one of our customers' favorite features. Walmart Pay, also in the app, is a fast, easy and secure way for customers to pay with their smartphones in Walmart stores. We also undertook a unique approach to e-receipts. Whether you shop with us in store and use Walmart Pay or shop with us online, customers' receipts are stored right in the app for easy tracking, returns and to build predictive lists and understand our customers on a one-to-one level.

Last week, we launched Walmart Advertising Partners program, in line with our mission to deliver ads that customers love. With this program, advertisers will have direct access to their Sponsored Products campaigns, a bidded auction-based marketplace, giving them more transparency and control. "We launched the Walmart Advertising Partners program with the primary goal of enabling our advertisers to engage with customers in a more meaningful and impactful way," said Jeff Clark, VP of Product at Walmart Media Group. Brands will now be able to increase visibility with Walmart's diverse, sizable audience of shoppers. Now, brands can tap into Walmart's shopper footprint to get the right sponsored ad experience, to the right shopper at the right moment through partners Flywheel Digital, Kenshoo, Pacvue and Teikametrics.

2.   Create a service customers love, they will come back

Walmart, as the world's largest grocer has an important role to play in customers lives. Mr. Sam Walton's vision was to democratize retail and that's so evident in our food business. Customers shouldn't have to choose between healthier food and food they can afford.

While that is our mission day-in and day-out, we take it a step further today. What if you could get those same groceries, keeping a little more money in your pocket, but also keep a little more time on your calendar? Grocery Pickup and Delivery does just that. Customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes and go pickup their groceries when it makes sense for them, or even have them delivered right to their door. We see that when customers use our Grocery Pickup or Delivery service, they save, on average, three hours a week. Couldn't we all use an extra three hours a week?!

As one of the panelists, Cecilia Wu, VP of Customer Science said, "We're not just in the retail business, we're in the living better business."

3.   Leading the omnichannel experience

According to a 2018 Forrester report, 87% of the shopping still happens in-store in the US. While a vast majority of customers begin their product searches on digital channels, brick and mortars still play an important role in the lives of our busy families. Walmart's vast infrastructure of more than 4,700 physical stores in the US allows us to offer omnichannel customer experiences no other retailer can match. You can shop online, select a convenient pickup time, and swing by your local Walmart store to receive your groceries at curbside. Or you can order a product on Walmart.com and pick it up in store at a pickup tower. Or, go to a store and find your items using Store Maps. "The idea that I really want to do it, the way I do it," said Daniel Eckert, SVP of Walmart Services & Digital Acceleration, "is what works for busy American families and Walmart wants to lead the charge to serve them the best."

There's a lot I learned during our CES tour. I left Vegas feeling more excited and energized to accomplish our goals in 2020. Stay tuned to learn about our latest developments as we grow with our customers at Walmart & Walmart Media Group.

Big thanks to our host Stef Jay and the wonderful panelists Daniel Eckert, Cecelia Wu, J. David Echegoyen and Jeff Clark.

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