business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  USA Today reports on how, "as a mature company, Walmart's results are scrutinized for things like minor improvements in profitability, but there's something more important happening. The retail giant is rapidly evolving from a brick-and-mortar retailer to a diversified omnichannel business that can be both the world's biggest retailer as well as a provider of high-margin services."

The analysis goes on:  "For years, it's been clear that Walmart is evolving beyond its historical business model as a physical retailer. Its acquisition of nearly five years ago helped accelerate its growth in e-commerce, and now the company is the second-largest online retailer in the U.S. with a robust grocery pickup business.

"Building on that momentum, the company laid out its 'integrated omnichannel strategy' in the latest earnings report, saying that one of its goals is 'innovating to enhance a seamless, digital customer experience designed to deepen customer relationships and increase share of wallet, enabling the company to diversify the business model by growing related businesses with accretive margins such as marketplace, advertising, financial services, and data monetization'."

I've long said that the difference between Walmart and Amazon is that Walmart's ultimate goal is to sell more stuff, and that Amazon has a more ambitious, we-want-to-be-integrated-into-every-part-of-your-life strategy in mind.  I'm not saying that one is right and one is wrong - just that they're different.

While Walmart is getting more ambitious in its approach to businesses with accretive margins, I'm not sure I'm ready to change my mind - because those accretive margins are going to be used to help Walmart keep its prices low, its physical and digital stores more competitive, and its brand more relevant.  It is, I think, a powerful strategy.