Walmart's plan to win back shoppers

Walmart has plans to win back shoppers with cleaner stores, lower prices, an increased understanding of shopper behavior and better employee engagement.

Greg Foran, CEO of U.S. operations at Walmart (NYSE:WMT), laid out the key strategic initiatives for the big-box retailer moving forward. The U.S. division is comprised of 4,500 stores and represents about 60 percent of the company's annual sales. Foran stressed the future need to train and keep employees engaged to increase customer service and, ultimately, grow sales.

Walmart's U.S. division turned out positive growth in the past two quarters, but it had been falling behind for two years prior, reported MarketWatch. Though traffic was positive for the first time in nine quarters at the close of last year, Walmart's growth still trailed behind Kroger and Dollar General.

The first initiative set up by Foran includes cleaning up stores and hiring engaged employees in time for the next holiday season.

Walmart announced plans to increase its starting wage earlier this month, in addition to training employees in more skills and giving them more say in their schedules. Walmart also wants to add department managers to oversee segments with declining sales, such as electronics. 

Local stores are being given more authority in their pricing and merchandising decisions, and manager compensation will be tied closely with customer satisfaction. The idea is that faster checkout lanes, strategic management and better customer service will increase sales.

The second initiative includes incorporating more data to understand customer purchasing patterns and fix assortments. Again, Foran put an emphasis on training employees—this time in the area of fresh foods—to give consumers more of what they want.

Foran stressed earlier this week that Walmart would continue to put pressure on suppliers to reduce costs. Walmart is asking key vendors to spend less on in-store advertising so that the retailer can maintain its promise of offering lower prices than competitors, including the warehouses and discount dollar stores encroaching on Walmart's market share.

Foran noted that omnichannel growth remains critical to long-term success, and Walmart will continue to invest heavily in e-commerce sales and distribution, according to a company statement.

For more:
-See this MarketWatch article

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