I have been trying to work out we need to do in order to adapt and change due to the technological changes happening all around us. The latest ranking of the most innovative companies compiled by Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) caught my eye. Their list of 50 companies is dominated by technology companies with seven out of the top ten technology companies.
The speed of change we are experiencing can be easily summed up by looking at the S&P 500. Back in 1960 a typical S&P company was estimated to survive for more than 60 years and in 2020 the average lifespan has declined to just 18 years. This is a time, in this fast-paced world, for companies to be agile in order to stay relevant and in turn survive. To survive today companies must be innovative. The term ‘innovate or die’ has never been more relevant.
You do not have to be new to be innovative and at number 13 in the rankings is Wal-mart. The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962 and incorporated on October 31, 1969, so it is not what you could call a newcomer.
Wal-mart has put significant efforts into its e-commerce and omi-channel offerings. The company launched ‘NextDay Delivery’ this year and it now offers one-day deliveries to the majority of the US population.
What Wal-mart is doing is not nice to have but totally necessary as the convergence of physical and digital commerce is gathering pace. And, as ever, the speed of change is being dictated by consumer demand. Wal-Mart is leading the omni-channel charge. Numerous improvements to the tune of $1.2 billion have recently been made to its e-commerce program, as it focuses its efforts on the omni-channel shopper.
“We will be the first to deliver a seamless shopping experience at scale,” said Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon. “No matter how you choose to shop with us, through your mobile device, online, in a store, or a combination, it will be fast and easy.
“Online retailers are testing physical store experiences because they recognise the same customer desire that we do. There’s a race to do this right, but only Wal-Mart can bring together a dense network of stores, supported by a supply chain and systems like ours, with an emerging set of digital capabilities to win with customers.”
“As we build out our e-commerce capabilities we are deepening our digital relationships with our customers,” McMillon added. “We’ve accelerated our expansion of online grocery pickup and we’ve seen that customers who start using online grocery spent nearly 50 percent more than similar customers who shop only in stores. This is the customer we’re going after. The shopper in our sweet spot who accesses Wal-Mart in multiple ways.”
The three-in-a-bed marriage of a seamless mobile, website and in-store shopping experience is what the modern consumer wants – the problem is that many retailers are still far too committed to monogamy, wedding two out of three at best.
Boards of all companies need to wake up and act now or be left bleeding and dying in the dust if they do not respond to their new reality.
Gordon is the former president and chief executive of BMMI. He can be reached at