In 2017, Walmart proved it's still the undisputed king of retail
- Walmart kicked its e-commerce initiatives into high gear in 2017.
- It has maintained its dominance in brick and mortar while becoming a real competitor online.
- For those reasons, we're saying it's the most impressive retailer of 2017.
Walmart entered 2017 as something of an underdog.
It's a position the retail giant is not used to finding itself in. After all, how can a company with nearly $500 billion in annual revenue ever be considered anything but the incumbent?
But analysts, consumers, and pundits all realize that online shopping - an area where Amazon dominates - is the future. And this year, Walmart proved it knows that too.
In 2017, Walmart moved quickly. By the end, it's easy to call it Amazon's most worthy competitor and biggest adversary.
The retailer launched more online initiatives than can be quickly summarized. It partnered with Google on voice shopping, opened its thousandth grocery pickup location, took advantage of its huge footprint of stores for easy online returns, introduced free two-day shipping with every $35 order, and even launched a pilot program to deliver fresh groceries right into customers' refrigerators.
Recent acquisitions, like the 2016 purchase of Jet.com for $3.3 billion, started to pay off as it became more clear how they would fit into Walmart's strategy. These initiatives were good for 40 to 50% e-commerce growth by the end of the year - a staggering percentage for a retailer of Walmart's size, though it does not break out individual numbers for online sales.But online isn't the only place where Walmart improved. Cleaner stores, a more robust grocery offering, and, of course, low prices lured more customers to stores for 12 quarters straight.
Wall Street has taken notice. It's one of the top five performing stocks this year in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, according to Bloomberg, and the stock is up about 43% from a year ago. Of 36 analysts, 15 say to buy and 21 have a hold rating or equivalent. Its last remaining sell-equivalent rating, from Wolfe Research, was upgraded in December.
In 2017, Walmart proved it can compete in a new era. That's why we're calling it the Retailer of the Year for 2017.
The sleeping giant has awakened - and there's no stopping it now.