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Wal-Mart makes online shopping steps for growth

Updated: 2015-05-27 07:18
By Qiu Quanlin In Shenzhen (China Daily)

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, the multinational retail conglomerate, launched an online-to-offline mobile platform in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Tuesday, looking for new business growth amid challenges brought about by the booming online shopping.

The newly launched platforms include a mobile shopping application, named "Walmart to Go", online shopping sections in physical stores and multiple O2O e-payment options, according to the company.

The online shopping service is currently available in stores in Shenzhen and will be expanded nationwide gradually, according to the company.

Sean Clarke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart China, said launching the mobile shopping service was to meet the changing demands of customers as it plans to be a real O2O company.

"The online shopping service is a milestone as it is an enhancement and extension to our brick-and-mortar business. We plan to integrate the physical and digital retail business seamlessly," said Clarke.

Currently, Walmart's application offers more than 10,000 items, covering fresh, dairy and frozen foods and grocery, health and beauty products and household chemicals.

"From ordering on the app, picking products from the shelf, to home delivery or through self-pickups in stores, customers will be able to experience fast and efficient service," Clarke said.

Wal-Mart, which said products sold online are of the same quality and price as the ones in physical stores, will work with professional logistics companies to provide delivery services, according to the company.

John Furner, chief merchandising and marketing officer of Wal-Mart China, said the company's good quality products would help draw crowds of customers to its online shopping service.

"China is a fast growing and big market for online shopping, with lots of customers and varied needs. We believe our traditional customers would find a different online experience, compared with other existing big e-commerce platforms," said Furner.

A growing number of retailers including department stores in the Pearl River Delta have been keen on e-commerce and are looking for new business growth amid challenges brought about by online shopping.

Guangzhou Grandbuy, the largest department-store chain in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, recently opened e-commerce sections in some of its stores that adopt the online-to-offline mode, allowing buyers to browse bonded goods in store and place orders online.

Moreover, the Guangzhou Friendship Store and Guangzhou Grandview are also preparing to launch such O2O services, according to local media reports.

However, industry sources said it could still take some time for traditional retailers to profit from online business.

"There are many big e-commerce platforms such as Taobao and JD.com, which have already grabbed huge online market shares," said Mo Daiqing, an analyst with the China E-commerce Research Center.

"It will be difficult for traditional retailers to catch up with e-commerce giants in online business. Retailers should offer preferential services and ensure good quality of goods in line with physical stores," Mo said.

Wal-Mart makes online shopping steps for growth

An outlet of WalMart in Yichang, Hubei province. The multinational retail conglomerate launched an onlinetooffline mobile platform in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on Tuesday. Liu Junfeng / For China Daily

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