What shouldn't you buy at Walmart

Walmart's entry into GM subsidiary Cruise: The retailer is a digital attacker

Today, Walmart no longer only sells its own products, but - just like Amazon - also operates as a marketplace for third parties. The Group has also successfully introduced its own “Walmart Plus” bonus program. This guarantees customers - just like Amazon Premium - fast delivery.

Even before the corona pandemic, the retailer had optimized its infrastructure for online trading and was able to successfully ramp up business when people were sitting at home because of the virus and were dependent on deliveries to the door. The retailer used its nationwide presence to its own advantage to offer hybrid services such as ordering goods online and picking them up in front of the shop on the sidewalk, completely pandemic-compliant.

There is also an extremely motivated person behind the successful establishment of the online business: Walmart also brought its founder Marc Lore on board five years ago with the takeover of Jet.com: Lore had once set up his own online business Quidsi, the one with Diapers.com sold diapers before Jeff Bezos launched a price war to push him to sell on Amazon. After an unfortunate couple of years under Bezos, Lore started his own company, Jet.com, to compete with Amazon. He continues to do that at Walmart today, only with even more clout.

But Walmart is looking further into the future: The group is working with several start-ups in the field of autonomous driving. A pilot project has been running for a few months in Scottsdale, Arizona, in which Cruise's autonomous cars are already delivering to Walmart. It went so well that the supermarket chain has now even acquired a stake in Cruise.

Walmart invests in fintech and has poached Goldman Sachs bankers

But Walmart also seems to have big plans in the financial sector: In January, the group entered into a strategic partnership with the fintech investor Ribbit Capital, which owns the well-known trading app Robinhood, among other things. Walmart also brought on two top executives from Goldman Sachs who built up the online consumer business at the investment bank.

Fintech plans are still very vague. But observers are already speculating about a super app for Walmart customers based on the model of the Chinese WeChat. Users can use it to do their banking, make purchases, chat or share bills with friends.

The fact that Walmart is venturing into these new spheres is remarkable. Or could one imagine Aldi or Lidl investing in Google's Waymo? In retail in Germany, “the main thing is cheap” still seems to be the main motto. German discounters in particular have done well so far - often abroad too.

A look at the USA shows, however, that Lidl and Aldi had to adapt at least a little here. Only cardboard boxes in the great hall don't work here. That's why the Aldi and Lidl supermarkets look more appealing here.

When it comes to online trading, too, German discounters in America have had to switch to delivery services more quickly than in Germany. Lidl uses the Shipt service for this in the USA, and Aldi relies on Instacart. It is also possible to order online and to pick it up outside the branch at some locations. However, the Germans are still a long way from a large-scale online strategy or even driverless cars.

Walmart, on the other hand, has understood: If you want to compete with Amazon, you have to work hard. The large branch network does not necessarily have to be a disadvantage. Ninety percent of Americans live within a ten-mile radius of Walmart. Walmart is currently using this to lure people into business for Covid vaccination. It also helps to deliver the Covid-19 home test or drugs via drone, as Walmart plans to launch this summer. After all, drones cannot fly huge distances for a delivery.

The blue and yellow cheap home on the green meadow was yesterday. Walmart is a digital player. And the German colleagues should take this as an example.

More:Waymo and Cruise increase the distance to the competition when it comes to automated driving.