CEO Doug McMillon on the future of Walmart

Nadee Bandaranayake
For more from NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show on January 14 – 16 in New York City, visit the official recap.

For more from NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show on January 14 – 16 in New York City, visit the official recap.

The National Retail Federation named Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, The Visionary at the NRF Foundation Gala on Sunday, honoring him for his contribution to the retail industry. During a discussion with NRF’s President and CEO Matthew Shay at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, McMillon spoke about Walmart’s plans for the future, the decision to increase its minimum wage and why the notion of a retail apocalypse has been blown out of proportion. 

The retail giant just announced it would increase its minimum wage and expand benefits for Walmart employees as a direct result of recently passed tax reform. Retail is a people business, McMillon said, and Walmart wants to ensure not just the well-being of its 2.3 million employees, but also that the ladder of opportunity exists for career growth. People are essential to the kind of transformation Walmart envisions. “As we become a different kind of technology company, the people who are in that mix and in that process will be the way that we’ll win,”  McMillon said.

With the acquisition of and Bonobos, Walmart is heavily investing in ecommerce, though McMillon pointed out that online purchases still only represent about 12 percent of total Walmart sales. For all the rest, the company plans to continually improve the customer experience at its physical stores. “The way customers want to live their lives today brings the store and ecommerce experiences together,” he said.

Plans at Walmart for this year and beyond include evolving to meet that customer expectation of a seamless experience across channels. McMillon said stories of retail’s death are unwarranted: The future of Walmart rests on its ability to increase value for customers, continue to offer the broad assortment of products they want and improve the customer experience.  “If we’re better at that than anybody else, we going to be here,” McMillon said about the future. “If we’re not, we won’t.”

The changing face of retail: A conversation with Doug McMillon

For more stories from NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show, visit the official recap page.