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Groceries and Jet.com help Wal-Mart grow e-commerce 20.6% in Q3

November 17, 2016 11:26 AM
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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. CEO and president Doug McMillon is making good on his promise to accelerate e-commerce growth.

The world’s largest retailer by total sales reported today that sales at its 11 e-commerce sites worldwide grew 20.6% in its fiscal third quarter, and that gross merchandise value—the total value of goods sold on its e-commerce sites—increased 16.8%. Excluding China, where Wal-Mart this year exchanged its Yihaodian e-commerce business for a roughly 10% stake in big Chinese web-only retailer JD.com Inc., GMV increased 28.6%. The retailer said U.S. e-commerce accelerated more quickly than the global figure, but did not provide an exact figure for that growth.

The third quarter results included six weeks of sales of Jet.com, the online marketplace Wal-Mart acquired this year for $3.3 billion. That deal, announced in August, closed more quickly than expected, Wal-Mart said today. Even without Jet, however, Wal-Mart says the value of goods sold on its global websites would have increased by more than 20%.

Wal-Mart’s same-store sales in the United States increased 1.2% in the quarter ended Oct. 28 over the prior-year quarter, and about 0.5%—or about 42% of that growth—came from e-commerce, Wal-Mart said. McMillon said that was the largest contribution yet from the web to the retailer’s same-store sales growth.

“It’s great to see an improving e-commerce business complement the momentum we have in our stores,” McMillon said in a prepared statement that accompanied the earnings release. Wal-Mart does not report e-commerce sales in dollars, and includes in e-commerce sales online orders fulfilled by its distribution centers or retail stores.

Online grocery sales represent another big area of growth for Wal-Mart. The retailer said today that over the past three-month period it had expanded online grocery sales to about 35 new markets and 200 more stores. Wal-Mart shoppers can now order groceries online and pick them up in nearly 600 locations in more than 100 markets.

That’s a big step up from October 2015 when the service was only available in five U.S. Wal-Mart stores. Wal-Mart operates 5,304 bricks-and-mortar stores in the United States, including 3,508 of its large-format “supercenters” that feature a large selection of groceries. “Customer count and basket size continue to outperform our expectations,” chief financial officer Brett Biggs said today of the online grocery service.

Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 also is trying to better compete with online nemesis Amazon.com Inc. (No. 1) by expanding its online selection, mainly by inviting more retailers and consumer brands to sell on Walmart.com and its international e-commerce sites.  McMillon said today that Walmart.com had added more than 8 million SKUs in the past three months. He said at last month’s annual presentation to investors that Walmart.com was offering 20 million SKUs, an increased from 8 million in January.

McMillon emphasized in his presentation last month that Wal-Mart intended to grow its e-commerce business at a faster pace, and the current quarter’s results reflect accelerated growth. In the previous three quarters Wal-Mart reported online growth of 11.8% in fiscal Q2 2017, 7% in Q1 2017 and 8% in Q4 2016, and for its last full fiscal year e-commerce growth of only 12.3%.

In May, when reporting results for the fiscal first quarter ended April 29, he said the 7% year-over-year e-commerce growth was too slow. U.S. online retail sales increased by 15.1% in the first three months of 2016.

Wal-Mart also reported today that e-commerce contributed 0.6% of the 1.4% same-store sales growth in Q3 for Sam’s Club, the retailer’s warehouse format. In addition, the company said e-commerce in Mexico grew by about 20% in the quarter. It did not break out growth for other markets besides the United States and Mexico.

For the three months ended Oct. 28, Wal-Mart also reported:

  • Total revenue of $118.179 billion, an increase of 0.7% from $117.408 billion in the same quarter a year ago. On a constant-currency basis, which corrects for the negative impact of the stronger dollar on the foreign sales of U.S. corporations, sales increased 2.5%.
  • Net income of $3.202 billion, down 6.2% from $3.414 billion.

For the first nine months of its 2017 fiscal year, Wal-Mart reported:

  • Total revenue of $354.937 billion, an increase of 0.7% from $352.463 billion in the same period a year ago.
  • Net income of $10.307 billion, a decrease of 0.2% from $10.332 billion.

McMillon today also touted Wal-Mart’s growing partnership with JD.com, No. 1 in the Internet Retailer China 500, a ranking that only includes retailers like JD.com that sell merchandise they own, and does not include Alibaba Group Holding Inc., the eBay-like marketplace operator that dominates online retail sales in China. He noted Sam’s Club now has its own shop on JD.com’s shopping portal, which also features a Walmart Global Imports store featuring goods from Wal-Mart stores around the world.

“When I was in one of our Walmart hypermarkets in Beijing, JD already had a site set up for picking and delivering customer orders,” McMillon said.

 

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