Amazon and Walmart are locked in an epic battle for the future of retail. As the former moves into the physical world with bookstores and its purchase of Whole Foods, the latter builds a sprawling omnichannel ecosystem. Essential Retail brings you five ways in which the old timer is taking the fight to the online behemoth.

3.) Creating an ecosystem of value for customers

Walmart has a strategic partnership in China with JD.com, which is enabling it to accelerate its progress in a key eCommerce market. A number of new initiatives have recently been launched across online and offline retail. It is present in 27 countries, with eCommerce operations in 10 of those, and has a global network of more than 11,000 stores.

Of all the traditional grocers, Walmart has done more than anyone else to get into the digital space, with its innovation labs, investment in Jet.com, partnership with JD.com and tie up with Google (through which it will offer Walmart products to people who shop on the online shopping mall, Google Express, a consortium of retailers including Target and Bed Bath & Beyond). But for Martin Newman, founder and chairman at Practicology, it isn’t really about omnichannel strategy. It’s about understanding what Walmart can do to create an ecosystem of value for its customers.

“How do they stop consumers buying from Amazon? Can they launch their own delivery proposition similar to Amazon Prime? Can they set up their own entertainment channel similar to Prime TV? Can they find other ways of adding value to customers?” he asks.

“When they invest in a business, their number one criteria should be about whether that business helps them to provide even more value to existing customers and how it fits into their ecosystem as opposed to only buying it for the additional EBITDA that it offers,” he explains. “Tesco acquired a whole host of businesses – including Giraffe, Harris and Hoole – but were unable to create an ecosystem and loyalty programme that meant they could offer all of these different brands to the consumer in a joined up way.”

Come back to Essential Retail later this week to read the remaining parts in the series:

1) One online shopping mall to rule them all

2.) Walmart acquisitions

4.) Mobile payments

5.) Leveraging its store network