Walmart’s digital makeover: ‘As if there’s any money left in the industry’

Image copyright shoalibrary

London – Great Britain’s biggest retailer, Amazon, isn’t the only one being outflanked by US technology and innovation.

The moment that changed my life was, of course,

reading about Walmart’s somewhat ill-fated attempts to reinvent itself as a “millennial” friendly omni-channel e-commerce retailer.

Far from winning back older shoppers on the high street, the discounts, incentives and recruitment of teenagers and millennials and their hip young families at the expense of traditional senior citizens and families inevitably proved to be one of the biggest flops in retail history.

And, as with Amazon, the result has been years of goodwill wasted by, and towards, conventional retailing as a concept itself.

As with Amazon, the revolution was, to some extent, founded on distortion and illusion. Walmart went about its structural changes from the cost side, presuming it could shift through the technology levers of inventory, forecasting and logistics so that it could finally claim the scalpel (rather than the scalpel itself) as the main healer of its supposed ills.

After spending years building an expertise in digital over the course of the last 20 years, is Walmart, fuelled by these cheap, easy and hence long-range assets, now committed to do anything?

It was the start of Walmart’s series of corporate PR moves that at least raises the prospect of making use of all this digital nous and innovation at some point in the future.

But until that day comes, I can’t help wondering, are all the skills those whom the nimbler types called the “60-70 year olds” might want to migrate to the digital world.

Nothing against their industry (because I am, of course, in retail), but I seem to recall fewer than half a dozen high-end department stores in the UK remaining with their traditional format in the two decades since the internet revolution began in earnest.

© 2019 Guardian News & Media Limited

Leave a Comment