In an effort to ramp up its customer experience for the mobile shopper, Walmart has confirmed its relationship with search engine giant Google, Bloomberg reported, to allow customers to order goods with their voice. The company is also making it easier for consumers to return goods bought through its mobile app.
Walmart also said it will build fewer than 15 new supercenters next year, down from the 35 planned for this year, and only add “10 grocery-store-sized Neighborhood Markets.”
The company did says that it expects e-commerce sales to rise by as much as 40% next fiscal year. Walmart also continues to take on Amazon head-on for e-commerce supremacy and it will add 1,000 online grocery pickup locations at stores.
Doug McMillon, Walmart CEO, has directed more than one-third of the company’s capital spending to building its e-commerce operations, Bloomberg said.
Amazon continues to hold an “insurmountable” lead online, according to Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea, but as Walmart “intends to continue to turn up the heat online,” O’Shea views it as a way for Walmart to “widen the gap between itself and all other brick-and-mortar retailers.”
The stock market responded favorably to Walmart’s recent moves. As of the first week of October, shares were up 4.9%, the biggest upward surge since the middle of the second quarter of 2016.
While Amazon continues to maintain its lead – cornering 62% of registered internet users in the United States, Wells Fargo & Co analysts told Bloomberg, Walmart continues to pose a threat.
Walmart has “unmatched physical resources, including stores and supply chain, and in the process is providing consumers with a compelling online alternative to Amazon,” said McMillon.