The new head of Wal-Mart U.S. says stores are key to winning customers online

April 15, 2015 10:45 AM

As online and offline retail become more closely linked, with customers purchasing online and picking up in stores, or placing web orders while roaming store aisles, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. thinks it has a major leg up against its competitors.

“With over 4,500 stores, we are within 10 miles of nearly 90% of all Americans,” Greg Foran, Wal-Mart’s new CEO of its U.S. business, told investors last week in a strategic update on Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations. “As we continue to expand, that equation becomes even more fascinating. That is a competitive advantage.”

That’s because the many Americans who live near a Wal-Mart could save on shipping costs and pick up web purchases at their local store before a web-only competitor like Inc. could have that same purchase shipped to their home, though Amazon offers same-day delivery service in some metropolitan areas. Amazon operates 63 fulfillment centers in the U.S.

Making it easier for customers to pick up online grocery orders and other web purchases in a local store is a major priority for Wal-Mart going forward, Foran told investors. He was light on details, but did say the retailer’s online grocery shopping teams are expanding. He also said formatting stores to cut wait times for order pick-up is a priority.

With an estimated $12.14 billion in 2014 online sales, is ranked No. 3 in the new Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide. Amazon is No. 1

In October, Wal-Mart’s chief financial officer Charles Holley said the merchant would invest $1.2 billion to $1.5 billion in e-commerce and digital initiatives this year.

The 2015 Top 500 Data is available in three formats and four buying options:

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