Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT - Free Report) has been undertaking numerous initiatives of late to better understand the needs of customers and enhance shopping experience, especially during the holiday season. Recently, the giant retailer unveiled a new program, named Mobile Express Returns, through which consumers can avail hassle-free return opportunities using Walmart App. Mobile Express Returns, starting from November, will bring together Walmart’s more than 4,700 stores and enable shoppers return the items easily. The company will also start store purchases in early 2018. The new system will also instantly credit the refund amount for some items. We believe the initiative will surely enhance holiday shopping experience.
With growing popularity of online shopping, consumers now prefer to buy through website or from their apps over buying from brick-and-mortar stores. As a result, companies are working toward innovation in their e-commerce activities to make shopping more enjoyable. The most recent Mobile Express Returns is the third offering by Walmart, after Mobile Express Money Services and Mobile Express Pharmacy, which are available nationwide. Further, Walmart expects to load more app features in 2018 to make shopping a seamless experience.
Walmart Gearing in E-Commerce Space
Walmart is also striving to make space in the growing e-commerce space and compete with e-commerce biggie Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN - Free Report) . In this regard, Walmart has undertaken many acquisitions to grow its e-commerce business. Since Jet.com acquisition in September 2016, the company has acquired four e-commerce businesses — Bonobos, ShoeBuy, Moosejaw, ModCloth. Recently, the company plans to invest in online cosmetics startup Birchbox. If the deal materializes, it will become the fifth e-commerce acquisition, since the Jet.com buyout.
The latest acquisition of a delivery startup Parcel, Inc. is expected to help the company in a significant way, given the rising popularity of online grocery shopping and delivery. This Bentonville, AR-based retailer has already partnered with ride hailing services Uber and Lyft for speedy online grocery deliveries and is also seeking drones for delivery and for use in warehouses, following the footsteps of Amazon. Recently, the retailer is testing a delivery service in partnership with San Francisco-based smart-lock maker August Home and Menlo Park-based same-day delivery startup Deliv, wherein customers can get groceries delivered to their fridge directly.
The battle between Walmart and Amazon is not only limited to online grocery delivery and pick up services it has also been extended to gaining share of lower-priced private label brands. Walmart, through its online arm Jet.com, has recently announced plans to launch its own private-label brand, Uniquely J, targeting young urban adults. The move came after Amazon gained access of Whole Foods’ 365 brands after its acquisition in August. In the same month, the giant retailer also teamed up with Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google to enter the budding voice-shopping market, following the footsteps of Amazon.
If we look into the year-to-date performance, we note that Walmart’s shares have rallied 14.3%, higher than the industry, which grew around 7.0%.
Zacks Rank & Key Pick
Walmart currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the broader retail space can consider Burlington Stores Inc. (BURL - Free Report) , carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here. Burlington has a long-term growth rate of 16.2%.
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