BOSTON — Simplifying assortment and thoughtful, strategic pricing have helped drive the grocery business at Walmart Stores Inc., but more work is needed, said Gregory S. Foran, president and CEO of Walmart US.
“I get out to the stores every single week,” Foran told participants at the UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference on March 6 in Boston. “About half the time I’m OK with it, and the other half, I’m grumpy.”
One area of improvement for Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart has been the simplification of its product assortment. Using Ritz crackers as an example, Foran described a scenario that used to include upwards of nine different variants of Ritz Original crackers, ranging from single packs to double packs to flat packs to bonus packs. Eventually it reached a point where Foran said the retailer needed to address the question of “What are we doing here?” As a result, Walmart has simplified the assortment.
He said the company also has benefited from thoughtful, strategic pricing, as well as the growth of the online grocery business.
“If you want to know one of the things that helps food, our food business, is when the store knows that it’s going to become an online grocery store,” Foran said. “Because now, you are the personal shopper. You are picking out the capsicums or the asparagus. You are the one that’s pulling out the meat.”
Although it is improving, an area the company continues to address involves its fresh offerings.
“Fresh has been a big deal, and we haven’t even got close to arriving on fresh,” Foran said. “I still go into stores and the wet wall — leafy greens — quality isn’t good. We get to the store (and) they haven’t got their PI (perpetual inventory) right. They’re not rotating the merchandise. But it’s better than it was. Meat has improved. The quality of our beef, our drive to get Angus, Prime Angus, has worked, and I know it. I buy it. I eat it. I can taste the difference.”