Author: Whitney Cooper, Head of Omnichannel Transformation
As America’s #1 retailer1, Walmart is focused on serving our customers where they are, with the things they want, when they want them. At Walmart Connect we’re focused on helping our suppliers and sellers do the same through the power of retail media, with a rich suite of omnichannel marketing solutions that help brands connect with our customers in meaningful and memorable ways — wherever shopping occurs. Our full-funnel solutions include one of Walmart’s greatest strengths: Our stores.
Stores remain a top source for inspiration, discovery, and purchase. With pandemic shopping behaviors behind us, customers are returning to stores en masse: 88% of our customers purchased in-store last year2. That’s why we’re leaning in even further into Walmart’s physical footprint — with more than 4,700 stores across the U.S. alone — to help brands achieve the most impact with our customers through omnichannel experiences.
Here’s how we’re exploring new in-store ad experiences, and a preview of some of our beta initiatives that we expect to roll out to suppliers in the coming months.
The customer is #1. Always.
Any conversation about our retail media experiences — particularly in our stores — starts with the customer. Because everything we do at Walmart starts with our customer. At Walmart Connect, when we create new ad formats, we look for ways to make them valuable for consumers and the marketers who use our platform.
At the store level, we are being very deliberate with our approach. The experiences we design must be additive and create a shopping experience that is consistent with what customers have come to expect from us over the last 60+ years. We’re working with teams across Walmart to assess new formats to make sure we are creating amazing customer experiences without interrupting store operations.
Bottom line: As we explore new retail media experiences, our core Walmart values remain unchanged. Walmart Connect’s focus isn’t just on what we can do with Walmart’s physical footprint, but what experiences we can create that are additive and relevant to our customers, to help them save time and money. And in turn, can create meaningful connections between our customers and the brands that work with us.
Bridging the digital to physical
We know brands crave omni solutions to create those customer connections across digital and physical experiences, meeting customers throughout the shopping journey, including as close to the point of purchase as possible. Walmart’s scale and reach positions Walmart Connect to redefine omnichannel advertising, as 90% of U.S. households shop with us every year3. While we’ve offered several in-store activations for some time — such as TV Wall, Self-checkout ads, and integrated marketing opportunities — there’s so much more we can explore. The next frontier of retail media is in-store experiences, and it’s one we’re excited to chart.
But it’s still an emerging opportunity for us, as we continue to test what serves customers best and which solutions are scalable to Walmart’s size. We’re excited to share two in-store beta ad formats:
Demos — offering product samples to customers as they walk through the store — are a proven part of the shopper marketing playbook. While demos are not new to Walmart, we’re now taking what customers already know and love even further. Walmart Connect is bringing these experiences in-house and scaling them across the U.S. Suppliers will soon be able to seamlessly integrate demos into their campaigns across digital and in-store experiences.
For suppliers, these demos create a massive opportunity to drive discovery and conversion, such as when launching a new product or driving an always-on presence for core products. For customers, this creates an experience to look forward to, and some have already shared that these demo weekends feel like customer appreciation events.
We started our pilot in April with 25 stores and are currently offering demos each weekend (Friday through Sunday) at more than 120 stores, with the aim of expanding to 1,000 by the end of the year. Part of our test is how to enhance the omnichannel experience by bridging the physical back to digital: For example, by pairing a demo cart with QR codes that link back to a curated Walmart.com landing page so customers can find inspiration and shop their list all in one spot.
The Walmart Radio Network is already well-known and well-loved in our stores. Now we are introducing ad spots to Walmart Radio, giving suppliers the ability to purchase ads by region or by store so they can target key markets. Brands can tailor their creative and targeting tactics to align with their strategies and help meet awareness goals.
This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly to Walmart customers through this medium. These ads also create a new upper-funnel touchpoint for brand marketers and out-of-home (OOH) buyers to create awareness, because in-store audio is about connecting with customers wherever they are in the store — they don’t have to pass the brand in the aisle.
In-store audio gives brands a new tool for surround-sound engagement in the context of an omnichannel, full-funnel campaign, while being non-intrusive to the shopper.
Reaching and serving customers through new formats
We’re in the early stages of our omnichannel capabilities. But we’re already helping suppliers seamlessly combine their physical and digital marketing activations across the entire shopping journey. We're excited to introduce more ways to inspire our omni customers by helping them discover new products and connect with brands they’ll love.
if you’re interested in learning more about driving omnichannel growth with our new in-store formats!
Sources: 1Walmart 1st Party Data, 2022. *based on revenue, 2Walmart first-party data with the timeframe reflective of 2020-2022, 3Walmart first-party data, 2021.