A 100-page document written by Walmart for advertising agencies starkly portrays the problems the company has to solve to remain the world's largest retailer. At the top of the list is the success of its competitors in the grocery sector, reports Recode, which managed to view the February document. "Grocery, the growth engine of the business, is losing share rapidly," a slide says. Shoppers "are choosing the competition," the slide says, displaying logos of Target, Publix, and Albertsons. It's the same story with online grocery purchases, the memo says: Instacart is closing in on Walmart and its curbside pickup service for the lead in that market thanks to how well it handled the early days of the pandemic. The memo was written for agencies vying to handle Walmart's advertising, and it bluntly expresses urgency, with one slide saying, "Must elevate quality assortment + value!"
The memo expresses concerns about renewal rates for Walmart+, a subscription service whose launch was partly driven by the fact that many of Walmart's best customers belong to Amazon Prime. More benefits will be added to the service, the memo says. And Target and Amazon have made inroads with Walmart shoppers buying general merchandise during the pandemic, per Recode. Walmart still has a comfortable lead over Amazon in grocery sales, per the Financial Times, and Amazon has struggled with its branded grocery business, which includes only about a dozen Amazon Fresh stores. But it owns Whole Foods, too, and the online giant has plans. "It would—and potentially will—be a different story if Amazon uses the Fresh stores and Whole Foods to begin to saturate a particular market area," a retail analyst said. (Read more Walmart stories.)