Skip to main content

What Walmart Canada has in store for the post-COVID world

President and CEO Haio Barbeito talks e-grocery, supplier relations and the at-home economy
Photo courtesy of Walmart.

Changes to the in-store experience, increased investments in e-grocery, and a shift in merchandising strategies and promotions will be important issues for grocer retailers as the economy slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy.

Walmart Canada is no exception. The big-box behemoth is examining these parts of its business and looking for ways to adjust to shifts in consumer behaviour in a post-COVID world.

This, in part, means working with supply partners to find ways to win in online grocery as penetration continues to grow, said Walmart Canada president and CEO Horacio Barbeito during an online interview hosted by Retail Council of Canada on Thursday.

"When it comes to grocery it's difficult to serve the customer in a way that generates profits," said Barbeito. "I see that there's an opportunity for retailers and suppliers to embark on personalization, getting into the one-to-one relationship with the customer through data sharing."

Walmart Canada could also rethink how it uses its physical store space, he said. Existing stores could be repurposed as fulfillment centres, or transformed into the ultimate, one-stop shop that includes gyms, banks and other businesses, said Barbeito.

The pandemic has moved much of society into what Barbeito called the at-home economy. There are great opportunities for grocers as Canadians prepare more meals from home and make investments in cookware and small kitchen appliances. "I've been married to my wife for 20 years and we just bought an ice cream maker," joked Barbeito.

And, when asked about Walmart+--the retailer's yearly subscription program that recently launched in the U.S.-- coming to Canada, Barbeito said a "digital engagement" program launching in this market was likely.

"We believe in a customer program that generates a digital relationship, getting to know the customer, personalize the offer, and very importantly, making sure that if we're going to be sharing data we want you to trust us that privacy is going to be there. that personalization is going to be of the highest level."




This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds