Walmart CEO Greg Foran Talks Strategy and Challenges Competitors to 'Bring It On'
BENTONVILLE, AR - A sneak peek into the mind of Walmart is a rare thing indeed, and recently the retail giant’s CEO Greg Foran opened up to Business Insider about the changes in the marketplace, staying on one’s toes, and not under- or overestimating competition like Lidl, Aldi, and Amazon.
"These are people out there that attack us. You've got drug stores, you've got traditional supermarkets, you've obviously got Amazon, you got hard discounters, you've got other discount stores, and we don't try and necessarily combat every single aspect of what they do, but when you've got stores that sit on 20 acres every two to three acres, you do have to deal with the fact that there are multiple Davids in your marketplace," the executive said, explaining how his company has risen to be the Goliath of its story with a number of others ready to throw stones.
While Foran told the news source that, when thinking about its strategy against Amazon, Walmart considers key questions like whether the name of the game is to have hundreds of millions of SKUs or to have a more curated assortment; what opportunities exist with data; and how should the team be thinking about health and wellness. It doesn't try to launch a counterattack every time Amazon makes a new move.
"This concept of the store being more than just a good store but being a fulfillment center feels like a pretty safe bet. So place your bets where you know you've got it right. Put a foot in the water on some of the other things, and let's test and learn. And some of the others, maybe you just sit back and wait and see," he said.
As to Amazon’s recently unveiled intentions for a new, lower-priced grocery chain, Foran said that he loves competing and thinks competition makes Walmart better.
"It galvanizes an organization into doing something," he said. "So I like it. Bring it on."
He explained there are many details Amazon will have to learn when planning for physical stores, like:
- Traffic signals
- Visibility from the road and signage
"Every time you enter a new business, you've got to have that energy and that drive to actually understand all of those components that go to make it work," he said. "Let's see what happens as they get into the space."
In thinking on new competition coming to market, Foran discussed Lidl's entrance into the U.S. He called it a galvanizing moment for the eastern seaboard for Walmart, which remodeled stores and boosted its grocery focus in the same region Lidl made its Stateside debut. He explained the company got the team North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia fired up and said, “we're going to take the battle."
"Lidl has put down three big [distribution centers] here in the United States," he said. "Guess what they're going to do? They're going to turn on the openings and they are on their third chief executive. So watch out: here they come."
Another "fierce competitor” Foran delved into was Aldi, who he said he never underestimates.
"I've been competing against all them for 20-plus years and they are fierce and they are good. They've done a very good job in the last two years of remodeling their stores, revamping them, changing their layouts, increasing the amount of organics that they're offering, gluten-free, they've driven prices down cleverly, improved the offer overall," Foran concluded.
With the pieces on the chess board clearly in place, 2019 looks to be an interesting year in the low-price arena of grocery, among others.