MMR hosts reception for Retailer of the Year honoree
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Since Doug McMillon took over as president and chief executive officer of Walmart, the pace of change within the world’s largest retailer has accelerated dramatically. And the pace of transformation is not quick enough for the CEO, who began his career at Walmart as an hourly associate in a distribution center.
“It’s not fast enough,” McMillon said during an interview at a reception here earlier this month, where he was recognized as the 2017 MMR Retailer of the Year. “And we’re trying to figure that out. There are a lot of things to feel good about, but we’re uncomfortable that we’re not moving fast enough.”
However, McMillon understands very well that change is difficult, not only on an organization but on an individual, personal level. He referred to a Fortune magazine article from the 1990s that had questioned the wisdom of former CEO David Glass’ gambles in entering food retailing with the Supercenter format and entering international markets.
“I recognize that those things were risky too,” he said. “But I think we’re in a situation where we’re going to have to continue to make big bets and then work hard to make them a reality.”
Since McMillon took the reins, Walmart has made some very big bets indeed, including massive investments in employee compensation and training in an effort to attract, nurture and retain top talent and, ultimately, improve the shopping experience of customers. It has also made major investments in digital technology in order to position Walmart to remain not only relevant but dominant as retailing undergoes perhaps its greatest transformation yet.
“In four years we’ve moved a lot, and we need to strategically, because we want great talent with less turnover, and we want associates who can use technology and engage customers in a different way,” he said.
Hand-held technology and apps, he added, are freeing up associates from many routine manual tasks and enabling them to deal with customers and solve problems on the sales floor.
At the same time, McMillon has continued to advance the sustainability mission launched by some of his predecessors. During McMillon’s tenure, Walmart has launched Project Gigaton, an initiative aimed at removing 1 billion tons of emissions out of the global supply chain by 2030.