Walmart is a brand people have been depending on for all their shopping needs since 1962. But over the last year, the ways in which consumers have bought their products has drastically changed as a result of the COVID pandemic. Many people turned to online shopping when lockdown orders were enforced and have continued to do so both out of ease and continued desire to avoid in-person contact as much as possible. While Walmart has long mastered and dominated the brick-and-mortar shopping experience with more than 11,440 stores around the world, its online presence hasn't necessarily kept up with the times. And now that shopping has really shifted into the digital world, Walmart's struggles have become more clear. In fact, a new leaked document from the company seems to reveal what Walmart considers to be its biggest weakness. Read on to find out what Walmart is losing its grip on amid the changing retail market.
A leaked document allegedly revealed that Walmart is struggling with its grocery business.
A leaked company memo revealed that Walmart has struggled to maintain its dominant position as the top grocery store destination over the last year, as reported by Recode in a May 7 article. The 100-page document from February—which Recode viewed, but Best Life has not seen—was created for advertising agencies vying to oversee the company's planning and buying of advertisements.
"Grocery, the growth engine of the business, is losing share rapidly," one slide of the document allegedly read. Another slide about the retailer's grocery business reportedly said, "Walmart is not first and preferred" in the grocery shopping space.
Best Life reached out to Walmart for a comment regarding the leaked memo but did not immediately receive a response. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment when reached by Recode.
The presentation reportedly notes that the company is having trouble staying ahead of several competitors.
The leaked document hints that Walmart is facing the heat from competitors, both digital and brick and mortar. "More than ever, Walmart shopper[s] are choosing the competition," one slide of the memo reportedly read. And according to Recode, the document included logos of competitors such as Publix, Target, and Albertsons and statistics showing increased customer traffic at those stores compared to a decline at Walmart.
The company is also struggling in the online grocery market, where it leads thanks to its popular curbside pickup service. However, the memo said Walmart is facing stark competition from online grocery delivery service Instacart. According to Recode, prior to the pandemic, Walmart owned almost a 40 percent share of the online pickup and delivery grocery market compared to just 20 percent for Instacart. But by Feb. 2021, Walmart's share had shrunk to just 31 percent and Instacart's had risen to a 30 percent share, putting the neck and neck.
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Walmart also seems to be struggling to retain members of its new subscription service Walmart+.
Walmart introduced a new subscription service called Walmart+ in Sept. 2020, in an attempt to compete with Amazon Prime, one of its biggest threats. According to RIS News, Amazon outshines all of its competitors—including Walmart—in the e-commerce space, owning more than a third of that market.
Walmart+ is available for users at $98 a year or $12.95 a month and allows unlimited delivery from Walmart stores that arrive as soon as the same day. By comparison, Amazon Prime membership fees are $12.99 per month or $119 per year. In December, Walmart+ dropped its $35 order minimum for free one- or two-day shipping to get more competitive with Amazon Prime, though the minimum remains in effect for groceries.
Still, a source familiar with Walmart+ told Recode that it hasn't come without its own challenges. According to the source, the company has struggled to retain new Walmart+ members. The leaked memo also allegedly said that the company needs to improve renewal rates, as well as the rate at which free trial participants convert to paying members after their 15 free days are up.
However, Walmart still experienced big gains in its last fiscal year.
Despite these challenges, Walmart is still the world's largest retailer, however, according to the National Retail Foundation (NRF). And there is reason for it. According to Walmart's latest earning's report, the company increased both revenue and profits by $35.2 billion and $40.2 billion respectively during its last fiscal year. The company also increased U.S. e-commerce sales by nearly 80 percent. However, Recode points out that many of Walmart's competitors have also increased their revenues and profits over the last year due to COVID, which is what the company makes clear in the leaked document.