Walmart’s Bricks-and-Mortar Footprint VS Amazon

Walmart’s Bricks-and-Mortar Footprint VS Amazon

Did you know 90% of Americans live within ten miles of a Walmart? To compete with Amazon, Walmart is leveraging its physical footprint. Its strategy includes:

  1. doubling stores as warehouses, allowing online shoppers to order at the last minute and pick up orders from self-service stations
  2. using machine learning techniques to restock frequently ordered items and prevent stock out
  3. equipping employees with an optimization app that charts employee’s shortest path to fulfill eight different orders at once
  4. using robots to stroll around store aisles to alert a store employee to restock items
  5. using robots to unload trucks and sort boxes, giving priority to out of stock items for easier re-shelving

This post is based on the Fast Company article, The clever way Walmart is trying to beat Amazon, by Katharine Schwab, March 19, 2019. Image source: Shutterstock / Jojje

Discussion Questions:

1. What operations strategies does Walmart use to compete with Amazon?

Guidance: Building on its vast physical presence, Walmart is competing with Amazon for online shoppers in two areas: delivery and ordering.

Walmart uses its warehouses for last-mile delivery saving storage and delivery costs while providing online shoppers with convenient and fast order fulfillment options.  Online shoppers can order last minute the night before delivery or pick up their order at nearby self-service stations.

2. What operations strategies does Walmart use to compete with traditional retailers such as Target?

Guidance: Walmart is competing with traditional retailers by integrating technologies to better manage inventory to save costs and reduce stock-out.

Robots stroll around store aisles to alert employees items that need restocking.  Machine learning techniques are used to predict frequently ordered items for reordering.  Employees use an optimization app to map out the shortest path to batch fulfill online shoppers’ order.  Conveyor-belt robots unload trucks and sort boxes into different departments and priority queues for quick re-shelving.


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