(Photo courtesy Walmart)
Walmart executives discussed numerous facets of their business at an investor conference Feb. 18, and Walmart U.S. president John Furner listed produce as one of several bright spots.
The company has been working for several years on improving its produce offering, particularly around freshness, and the retailer asserts that those efforts are paying off.
“I love what I’m seeing in produce,” John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., said in the conference, which was held in New York and broadcast live on YouTube. “We talked about the improvements over the last few years, and several times in the last quarter it’s exciting to hear Martin (Mundo), who leads the produce department, talk about another record sales day. They’ve got momentum, and you can feel the energy when you talk to the team when it comes to items and the way they’re taking days out of the supply chain.”
Walmart had $141.7 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter and $524 billion in revenue for the full fiscal year, according to its latest Securities and Exchange Commission filing. E-commerce continues to see significant growth, with online grocery a key contributor.
For the year, Walmart’s online sales in the U.S. grew 37%, with the company’s Net Promoter Score and Customer Value Index marks improving.
“Our data shows that a customer who shops in both stores and through our app or website spends twice as much as a customer who shops in stores only, and they spend more in stores,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart. “It’s obvious to us that people want to shop a brand in a seamless, omnichannel way that has little to no friction.”
As much as online is a focus, grocery also remains a high priority.
“Grocery is central to the customer relationship,” Furner said. “Now we’re delivering strong sales in grocery, and we’re gaining market share, but to make it an even more quality experience, we’re going to continue to focus on even lower prices, fresh innovation, private brands and then convenience.”
As always, Walmart will continue to develop and implement strategies to lower prices. Furner gave an example of one area the company is considering — reducing signage. Using fewer signs around stores could improve the customer experience, and it could also save the company tens of millions of dollars annually.
Looking ahead, the retailer provided guidance that it expects comparable store sales growth of at least 2.5%, excluding fuel, for the 2021 fiscal year. It expects its U.S. e-commerce sales to grow about 30%. Last but not least, Walmart plans capital expenditures for 2021 of about $11 billion, focusing on “store remodels, customer initiatives, e-commerce, technology and supply chain” projects, according to the filing.