FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. —
Walmart is well-positioned to compete in a multichannel world of in-store, online and mobile commerce, president/CEO Mike Duke told attendees at the company’s annual meeting here earlier this month.
Duke, who has come under fire for Walmart’s modest financial performance and weak U.S. comp-store sales, outlined five corporate imperatives to win over “the next-generation customer,” including growth, everyday low costs and prices, e-commerce competitiveness, developing a global talent pool, and improving people lives by making healthier foods more affordable.
Duke noted that the next-generation customer is “connected to the world through smartphones and social media … They’re in charge of when they shop and how they shop, and they know who has the lowest prices.
“With our stores and low prices,” he said, “we can really take advantage of mobile technology and this era of price transparency. We can combine our stores, our systems and our logistics expertise into one continuous channel to drive growth and serve the next generation customer around the world.”
Walmart also used the opportunity of the annual meeting to debut its first mini Express Store, in rural Gentry, Ark., and to approve plans to repurchase upwards of $15 billion in Walmart shares. The buyback would further consolidate the founding Walton family’s control over the company by giving them a greater than 50 percent ownership position.
As per tradition, the shareholders’ event was held here at the University of Arkansas’ Bud Walton Arena, and featured a mix of management speeches, pep-rally montages and big-name entertainment.
The latter included actor Will Smith who served as host, and performances by singer-songwriter Alicia Keyes and hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, which thanked Walmart for being one of the few retailers to still stock CDs.