'Digitally-connected' Walmart reports blow out Q4

Walmart's all-important holiday sales didn’t disappoint, with its eCommerce business emerging as a star performer.

Total Q4 revenue was $138.8 billion, with a 1.9% like-for-like increase of $2.5 billion, and profit stood at $3.69 billion. Whilst Walmart US eCommerce sales grew 43%, in line with the previous quarter's rise, as it benefitted from the expansion of grocery pickup and delivery, and a broader assortment on Walmart.com. The retailer is on track to capture a 4.6% share of the US eCommerce market, behind eBay Inc and Amazon, according to eMarketer.

“We had a good year. Progress on initiatives to accelerate growth, along with a favourable economic environment, helped us deliver strong comp sales and gain market share,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart.

“We’re excited about the work we’re doing to reach customers in a more digitally-connected way. Our commitment to the customer is clear – we’ll be there when, where and how they want to shop and deliver new, convenient experiences that are uniquely Walmart.”

Tech highlights included testing out Spark Delivery, a new last-mile grocery delivery service, in-store initiatives such as autonomous shelf-scanning robots and floor cleaners and FAST unloaders and the launch of 17,000 virtual reality training devices. Walmart also announced a pilot with Udelv for custom autonomous cargo vans to deliver groceries.

“Walmart is successfully broadening its online base of customers and is now attracting both younger and more affluent demographics,” added Neil Saunders, MD of GlobalData Retail. “These are early days, but Walmart is now a serious contender in the online space and presents a much more serious threat to Amazon than it did 18 months ago.”