A Walmart exec explains that boosting delivery options isn't going to stop shoppers from visiting stores

  • Walmart SVP of digital operations Tom Ward isn't worried about delivery cannibalizing brick-and-mortar foot traffic.
  • Speaking at the second annual Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas, Ward discussed why Walmart's online delivery strategy isn't a threat to its stores.
  • He explained that "time-starved" shoppers are just looking for convenience.
  • In his view, different methods of shopping and fulfillment are complimentary, allowing the retailer to meet customers' varying needs.
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LAS VEGAS — Delivery isn't a zero sum game, according to Walmart SVP of digital operations Tom Ward.

Speaking at the second annual Groceryshop conference in Las Vegas on Sunday, Ward said that he's not concerned that the retailer's expanded delivery and fulfillment options will cannibalize store traffic.

Walmart has opened up or piloted a slew of fulfillment channels over the past few years, including same-day grocery delivery, in-home delivery, one-day delivery, and pick-up offerings.

But Ward said that he doesn't buy into fears that expanding e-commerce and delivery fulfillment will siphon customers away from Walmart brick-and-mortar locations.

"This is never about having to make a binary decision," he said. "When you open a new channel, people don't stop shopping at Walmart supercenters and the neighborhood market."

In fact, according to Ward, traffic has continued to grow within its stores, regardless of the explosion in fulfillment choices.

In his view, customers' needs can vary day to day when it comes to what they need from Walmart. He used the example of a "time-starved family" juggling activities like a baseball game and a birthday party.

He said that that family will sometimes rely more on the "extensive training" of Walmart's personal shopper, while in other instances they may prefer to visit the stores themselves.

Depending on what their schedule looks like, the family may even opt to drive over to the store for a parking lot pickup of their purchases.

Ward said that Walmart's biggest concern is providing "maximum convenience" to its shoppers, regardless of how customers want their needs to be met.

"What we absolutely want to do is get that same great value and same great convenience in all the ways that you can interact with the customer," Ward said.

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