How Walmart Applies an Omnichannel Mindset to Its Shopping and Advertising Strategies

A customer-centric retail experience begins with flexible and connected services

All the restrictions and burdens of operating in a pandemic have forced retailers to adapt, be flexible and rapidly integrate new ways of shopping. While some things are temporary, we sense that how America shops has changed permanently, shifting into a customer experience with seamless service and choice, across digital and physical. And it is evident that successful retailing and retail advertising will depend on embracing this omnichannel mindset.

Not ‘online’ or ‘in-store,’ but both

Shoppers who have adapted to new retail norms expect to have the same experience, no matter where they shop or how they pay. Building an omnichannel experience means retailers must stop thinking about various channels as standalone journeys, and instead offer flexible and connected services across all channels.

While the pandemic did not create the omnichannel customer, it solidified the expectation of a seamless in-app to in-store shopping experience. At Walmart, we’ve seen this firsthand. When customers began to cut down on in-store shopping trips, we expanded our curbside-pickup slots for online grocery orders by nearly 30%. Today, when a store associate brings grocery bags to the car parked in a pickup slot, the driver is often the same customer Walmart has served for years. But she and millions like her are changing how she shops with us. With our recent launch of Walmart+, we expect that customer may shift her habits again, this time to home delivery.

And if a customer decides to shop in-store, her goal is to get her shopping done more efficiently. She’ll shop inside the aisles with a phone in one hand and a shopping cart in the other. She’ll use our in-app store map to find the items quickly and use the in-app Walmart Pay feature for contact-free checkout. The physical in-store experience has become an extension of our digital relationship with customers.

Delivering ads for omnichannel customers

The retail media business is no different. Almost everything we do at Walmart Media Group is measured by the impact on sales across ecommerce, brick-and-mortar and hybrid shopping trips that are a mix of both. The core of our ad-technology platform is the ability to measure the impact of digital advertising on online sales—not just on our site and app, but in our physical stores, too. This omnichannel view differentiates us from our competitors because it makes advertising with Walmart more accountable than advertising elsewhere.

This summer, we also leaned into this hybrid of digital and physical by introducing new advertising touchpoints in Walmart stores: an improved 4K TV Wall in the electronics department with sight, sound and motion; ads on the self-checkout screen for impulse buys; pickup check-in videos on customers’ devices; and geo-aware ads that appear in the Walmart app’s unique “store mode.”

Offering a platform advertisers can trust  

Providing full accountability and transparency into retail advertising is foundational to Walmart Media Group. It’s how we earn our advertisers’ trust. We are committed to delivering omnichannel ROAS results, plus actionable campaign insights for our advertisers. We took a bold step this year by launching on-demand Performance Dashboards for every campaign, which offer our advertisers access to inflight omnichannel reporting for free.

The more ways customers shop with Walmart, the more relevant Walmart Media Group’s omnichannel platform becomes—to Walmart advertisers and to the Walmart customers who want to be connected to your brand and products. If there’s one thing we stand by it’s this: At Walmart, the customer is No. 1 always. There’s a lot of room to grow and improve the retail experience, and we’re looking forward to an omnichannel future designed with the customer in mind.

Stephen Howard-Sarin has spent nine years at the intersection of large-scale commerce and data-driven advertising. At Walmart Media Group, Stephen leads the strategy and enterprise transformation teams, defining long-term business direction, M&A, competitive analysis, strategic partnerships and retail integration.