Source: The Economic Times India
Amazon has hit almost every US retailer adversely. An exception has been Walmart. At over $500 billion in revenue, it remains more than twice as big as Amazon. In 2019, its share price rose 27%, much faster than Amazon’s and among the fastest in the Dow Jones index.The stock price surge actually began in late 2015. That’s roughly the time the company embarked on a digital transformation of itself. The move has enabled the company to deal with its phenomenal scale — over 275 million customers visit its 11,300 stores and e-commerce sites every week — more effectively, and provide consumers with choices in shopping that were impossible earlier.Core to this transformation has been Walmart Labs in Bengaluru, one of the company’s biggest R&D and engineering arms. “In the last three years, we have really evolved and grown here,” says the head of labs in India, Hari Vasudev, who moved from Flipkart, where he shaped the strategy for supply chain and built the technology stack for its logistics arm EKart.The focus, he says, has been on two things: one, use data far more effectively with technologies like big data and AI/ML, to offer the best prices, reduce costs and do personalisation; and two, provide a great omni-channel experience — integrate Walmart’s traditional offline strength with online capabilities to create newer experiences.One of the first projects Bengaluru undertook was a massive machine learning one, called competitive intelligence analytics or CIA, that involved looking at pricing of hundreds of retailers to ensure Walmart fulfils its promise of ‘everyday low price’ — ensuring its prices are the lowest among all.