Digital Transformation Megatrend: A Case of Walmart
Digital Transformation Megatrend: A Case of Walmart
Accordingly, digital transformation is the incorporation of digital technology elements into the daily operation of a business. Essentially, digital transformation involves the complete overhaul of how a company operates and deliver their service. This profoundly affects the company operations in terms of mission and the value statement. This is a megatrend that is being embraced by organization both local and international. This paper examines the case of Walmart, as an example of a company that has embraced digitization with a positive outcome. This digitization process has continually challenged the status quo of Walmart as a company with a customer-centred business model and a quest to streamline company operations. Digital transformation is imperative for any business, Walmart included that seeks to remain relative and competitive in any sector that it operates. In this case, digital transformation can be seen as an adaptation method used by Walmart to conform to how the world is changing digitally.
Consequently, it has been the mandate of the leaders of Walmart to recognize the need to embrace digital transformation. Effectively, this has been done through need analysis and a careful examination of the current business environment. Proper management dictates that managers should recognize when old management operation methods are no longer effective and move to more effective methods. However, before transforming digitally Walmart had to answer key questions that act as a foundation in the process of transformation. This question includes, how has transformation worked for similar companies and how to roll out transformation in the organization. Summarily, digital transformation is an inevitable megatrend that is essential for a company to operate in current business environments (Ebert & Duarte. 2018).
Impact of Digital Transformation In Walmart’s Operation
Admittedly, digital transformation is mainly applied in an organization to better service delivery and to maintain competition with its peers. Nonetheless, Walmart has also drawn a lot of benefits both internally and externally. To understand better how digital transformation is essential in a business, it is necessary to understand the process of digital transformation. Digitization starts with the formulation of a problem statement, this later defines the scope which a business will carry out the digitization process. For the case of Walmart, the company wanted to act more within its mission statement to ensure better service delivery. The key stakeholders in the company had to visualize how the digitization process will help the company. Additionally, Walmart had to clearly understand the digitization process since it occurs in many different ways. The company had to examine their business models and see what method of digitization suits them better before deploying the digitization process. As mentioned above the digitization process has a lot of meaning and understanding the process is essential in the digitization process(Ebert & Duarte. 2018).
Accordingly, leaders in Walmart have to frame their digitization plans around a problem statement to maximize the output from the digitization process. For instance, Walmart had an issue with production which led the company to explore methods that can be used to increase production at a cost that s beneficial to the company (Matt, Hess & Benlian, 2015).
Owing to the above-mentioned facts, digitization has impacted Walmart’s customer service delivery. This can be witnessed through digitization of processes such as automation and big data. Research has indicated that big data is the fast-growing megatrend for companies that operate mainly in consumer services(Tan, Yan, Chen, & Liu, 2018, December). Data has shown that companies can use data generated to build insight and predictive models that target their customers directly. In addition, to improving customer experience big data can also guarantee better operations by building models that forecast profits ensuring that the organization runs optimally. This ensures better operation management and seamless customers services.
Profoundly, digitization has enabled Walmart to survive tough economic times and competition. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Walmart embraced digitization where it was able to survive as compared to their undigitized counterparts. Among the other advantages drawn form digitization in the pandemic include uninterrupted operations due to a remote working environment and continued service delivery while the world was in a lockdown. This unprecedented event led other companies to increase their spending on digitization and other automation facilities. Walmart has noted that consumer inclination is increasingly moving towards digitization and they have to adapt in order to access this unique pool of customers (Harsoor, & Patil, 2015).
Accordingly, Walmart has embraced digitization by increasing its customer-centred approaches that ensure the company does what is best for the customer. They have increasingly adapted digitization to ensure that they give the customer the best experience in terms of service delivery. This has been impactful since they are operating in a business environment with companies that are more technologically adept than them. This has guaranteed them survival in terms of customer retention and the ability to expand amid harsh internal and external factors (Kane, Palmer, Phillips, Kiron, & Buckley, 2015).
Subsequently, Walmart has also benefited from the acceleration of the demand for digital services. For instance, consumers are embracing online shopping as compared to conventional shopping this has created new opportunities for access to online shoppers. However, the competition is stiff since there are a number of big ecommerce platforms like eBay and Amazon who are better placed in the tech space. Walmart was able to navigate this by using their brand loyalty combined with its large presence to fight off competitors. To emphasize further on the importance of digitization in Walmart case it is clear that brands with strong mission statements that are able to transform accordingly.
How Walmart Used Digitization To Solve Disruptions
Walmart’s ambition to embrace digitization comes from its mission statement to put the customer at the centre of everything. This has acted as their guiding tool towards the digitization process by moving with trends that appeal the most to the customer. While facing competition from Amazon, Walmart had to perform a complete overhaul of their systems starting from its supplies departments to retail and logistics to accommodate digitization. They were able to leverage technology to fight competition from peers who has a head start. Over the years they have enjoyed economies of scale because of their size and presence all over America. However, they faced disruption in their services which were caused by changes in consumer behaviour, changing target market, growth of online shopping trends and competition from other companies (Kane, Palmer, Phillips, Kiron, & Buckley, 2015).
Concisely, the only remaining resolve for Walmart to fight this disruption was through digitization. Not only did digitization offer an opportunity for Walmart to handle disruptions but also to conform to a megatrend that dictated market shifts. First, to match up to changing consumer habits that had to move from their normal retail. Presently, most shoppers are millennials and combined they formed a target market that was not previously accessible by Walmart. Current millennial shoppers preferred shopping online as compared to conventional shopping and they formed the largest percentage of shoppers. The rise of social media also accelerated the need to move most of their services online since it formed a framework on how to interact with consumers online. All this necessitated Walmart to move to a technologically driven retail model combined with the affordable pricing they were able to be at par with the competition. However, this was not a lasting solution because although Walmart had transformed into an online store that needed to package themselves as more than an online store. The growth of mobile computing had introduced other elements such as online advertising and shopping apps. To complete their transformation they had to also move into optimizing their services for mobile shopping to cater fully for the millennial shopper who uses a mobile phone as their primary device (Kane, Palmer, Phillips, Kiron, & Buckley, 2015).
Subsequently, all these things came at an appropriate timing where advertising was also more targeted through the use of big data and social media analytics. Furthermore, this enabled Walmart to guarantee their customer centred ideologies(Harsoor, & Patil, 2015). Mobile telephony had presented a dynamic opportunity for Walmart since customers would use it a primary device for shopping either by making price comparisons or by carrying out direct shopping. This was an opportunity for Walmart to increase customer service and also transform its retail landscape. On the issue of competition, Amazon had previously dominated online sales owing to their technical background and experience, they had earlier access to online customer and were slowly moving to physical retail stores. Amazon was slowly shaping the retail sector and its influence was a threat to Walmart. Walmart had to adapt or face a major challenge of losing its market segment.
Presently, with the pandemic, Walmart has been able to make sales despite the disruption caused by lockdown and restricted movement of individuals. In addition, it has reassured consumers of their determination to always put the consumer first. Walmart has also increased its digitization into fundamental processes such as supply chain which has improved its operational effectiveness because of its large size. This has given them a competitive advantage because they are able to maintain a low cost of operations resulting in low prices. Digitization has played an active role in eliminating market disruptions by using digital tools (Harsoor, & Patil, 2015).
Digital Transformation Initiatives That Walmart Should Consider
Internet Of Things
Internet of things (IoT) refers to the interconnectedness of devices such that they can communicate with each other over the internet. This includes a whole array of devices ranging from factory sensors to security cameras. IoT provides the necessary infrastructure to facilitate the digitization process. Additionally, it is also a megatrend that could give a company a competitive edge over other similar companies. Walmart could benefit greatly from the use of IoT to facilitate further integration of digital elements in their operations. Combined with their other digitization infrastructure Walmart could easily increase the effectiveness of their service delivery while at the same time reducing operational cost. Areas where Walmart could apply IoT, include automation at the checkout where they could incorporate tag readers with a customized point of sale systems. This will ensure that during peak hours customers are served quickly. Also, with present covid -19 conditions contactless shopping provides a safer shopping experience.
Presently, Amazon has deployed this shopping model in its Amazon Go stores with proven success. The deployment of IoT can also be incorporated with current systems, for instance, discounts where customers can be offered personal discounts. Accordingly, data obtained from the IoT application can be used to build insight which can make the shopping experience better for instance how much time a customer takes viewing a particular product. This can enable the company to curate shopping experiences down to the customer’s preference. Also, the use of RFID tags can limit instances of shoplifting and also provide better inventory control for each store, this will minimize costs and at the same time make operations easier. IoT will increase customer experience in the sense that customers will now have a shopping experience modelled after them (Gregory, 2015).
Big Data and Analytics
Big data refers to the use of large data sets to build insights and make recommendations. The data can be analyzed further to include predictive patterns and build forecasts. Walmart could use big data to build customer recommendations based on historical purchase data. Additionally, the company could employ data-driven decision making which has proven to be more successful. Areas here big data could be deployed include prediction of customer spending habits which can then be applied in creating customer loyalty programs. The use of big data analytics ensures that the data obtained through online purchases can be used to create more targeted advertising(Tan, Yan, Chen, & Liu, 2018, December).
Selectively, big data can also be used to facilitate forecasting where the company could prepare adequately when they are foreseeing surge in customers during a low season. The insights drawn from big data are important to a company since they provide a better record of performance by making use of the present data. Big data combined with machine learning models can be used to anticipate and make future decisions that are more concise and accurate. The most important role of big data is that algorithms deployed from user data drawn from different sources like card information and shopping preferences can be used to predict customer inclination which enables the company to stay ahead of the competition.
Cloud computing refers to the delivery of cloud services such as storage networking and remote computing. This provides a way to include digital literacy into production structures by providing flexible resources. Cloud computing provides a framework for the deployment of the above-mentioned transformation initiatives. For instance, cloud computing will provide a structure for the consolidation of big data. Cloud computing provides an advantage since data is pulled from different sources it will be easier to access the data for analytics. Due to the size of Walmart, cloud computing will provide an appropriate avenue for collaboration for different remote teams as well as cloud computing. Cloud computing also promote better resource sharing among the various teams.
Walmart will greatly benefit since most cloud computing service provide a virtual system that collects data from API and other sources. It also provides better ways to handle the loss of data and other system errors. Central operations from cloud computing provide a better way for the IT team to correct system failures (Tan, Yan, Chen, & Liu, 2018, December).
Digital transformation in line with digital literacy is an inevitable megatrend that has to be embraced for an organizations success. Organizations are presented with the option of either embracing the change or dying a natural death. Organizations are closely considering digital transformation based on aa necessity. However, the digitization process can cause a fatal failure of not deployed correclty. Previous models indicate that aside from extensive research digitization should be carried out with experimentation and simulations to ensure that it is the correct fit for the organizations. The choice of the tool has to be affordable to the company and also accessible. Besides the mentioned areas, digitization also improved employee motivation because of the easy completion of tasks. The case of Walmart provides an example of good timing and strategic planning. This is because they moved ahead of the curve before element such as Covid-19 reshaped the business landscape. They were able to enjoy the perks of continued operation through remote services and other activities. The problem-solving nature of digitization cannot be ignored since tools are currently being developed to meet the need of every organization. As mentioned above the use of automation helps build resilience and shape the market radically for competition.
However, digitization also presents new challenges in an organization, for instance, moving to digital systems has rendered most jobs redundant. This is unfortunate since human resource input is very essential in an organization. Additionally, digital transformation presents a lot of risk for companies because of the increased exposure.
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