Executive of the Year: Doug McMillon, Walmart
Doug McMillonCEO, Walmart
We're accelerating innovation and utilizing technology to shape the future of retail.
Began his first role at the company in 1984, but has led the company as CEO for more than 4 years.
Increasing grocery e-commerce presence with the expansion of curbside pickup, same-day and autonomous delivery.
With McMillon at the helm, Walmart has made a huge push into e-commerce, with grocery delivery available in 100 markets — about 40% of U.S. households by the end of the year.
With more than two decades of experience working for Walmart, Doug McMillon appreciates where the world’s largest retailer has been. But it's his keen eye for where the company is headed that makes him one of the most effective chief executives in retail.
In his four years at the helm, McMillon has pushed Walmart to utilize its size and innovative power to claim leadership across various parts of the industry. This year, grocery has lead the way for the company, with record comps coming in food and beverage across the first three financial quarters. Grocery currently accounts for 52% of Walmart’s sales.
"The food business continues to be a bright spot, with rapid rollout of grocery pickup well underway, and product delivery expanding as well"
Lead Retail Analyst with Moody's
A lot of this growth can be credited to Walmart’s grocery e-commerce push in curbside pickup and same-day delivery. The retailer's free pickup service is now available at 2,100 stores — more than double what it was a year ago — and will expand to 3,100 stores by the end of next year. After testing out delivery for two years prior, grocery delivery kicked off in March of this year and will reach 100 markets covering 40% of U.S. households by the end of this year.
"The food business continues to be a bright spot, with rapid rollout of grocery pickup well underway, and product delivery expanding as well," Charlie O'Shea, lead retail analyst with Moody's, in an email sent to Grocery Dive.
Walmart is continuing to not just expand but refine those services, as well. During the company's second-quarter earnings presentation, McMillon noted the retailer is focused on getting orders to customers faster.
"Grocery pickup wait times continue to come down and our grocery delivery times are improving," McMillon noted.
McMillon and his executive team see online grocery as not just a profitable opportunity, but as a way to grow business in its stores across categories. According to the company, 30% of consumers who use Walmart store pickup are new to the retailer.
"Customers continue to gravitate toward our selection of fresh produce, meat, and bakery items that offer great quality at low prices"
In a similar vein, Walmart has made sure to invest in its stores, steadily remodeling to make locations more attractive and easier to navigate. The company has also continued to update its assortment with additional fresh and local foods, private label offerings and more — all with an eye towards bringing in millennials and more affluent consumers. Earlier this year, Walmart introduced Sam's Choice Italia, a premium private label line, along with a lineup of store brand wines in 1,100 stores.
This year, Walmart also made assertive moves to secure its workers' loyalty. It bumped up the starting hourly wage to $11 an hour back in January, and throughout the year has announced incentives aimed at attracting and retaining employees in a tight labor market. This includes increases to its education benefits program, discounts on their phone bills and more.
In addition to crafting a better experience for shoppers and workers, Walmart and its chief executive have maintained a spirit of innovation and experimentation to address the business environment several years down the road. Walmart partnered with Waymo in Arizona to test self-driving cars that would pick up consumers and bring them into stores. The retailer also piloted a grocery picking robot to fulfill customers' online orders in Salem, New Hampshire. Most recently, the grocer announced it is testing driverless delivery in partnership with Ford and Postmates in Miami.
Competitive pressure from the likes of Amazon, Kroger and Target has driven Walmart forward in its mission to offer a leading omnichannel experience. But McMillon has always made sure to reach back to Walmart's core focus, which incorporates Sam Walton's famous saying, "Save Money. Live Better." If the retailer can't deliver on convenience, McMillon has noted many times, it's not fulfilling its consumer’s demands.
"Customers continue to gravitate toward our selection of fresh produce, meat, and bakery items that offer great quality at low prices," McMillon recently said during an earnings presentation.
Follow Krishna Thakker on Twitter