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Leveraging Innovation in Retail to Succeed in Challenging Times | Mainstage

Programming Sponsor:

Walmart Color e1635269642342 - Leveraging Innovation in Retail to Succeed in Challenging Times | Mainstage

Judith McKenna, President & CEO, Walmart International
John Negroponte, Vice Chairman, McLarty Associates; Concordia Leadership Council Member

For a massive multinational company like Walmart, managing the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting supply chain disruption took effort from all quarters. With a focus on innovation, Walmart was able to drive a strategy that enabled digital transformation across the 24 countries in which it does business outside of the U.S., prompting the company to become a leader in COVID-19 response and recovery while also driving access and inclusion around the world. 

Judith McKenna, President & CEO of Walmart International, described how the company began preparing after its team in China started reporting on a cluster of illnesses in December 2019. In response, they decided to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which ultimately came to pass. One key component of Walmart’s response was to empower local markets to make smart decisions for their people and areas, putting employee safety at the forefront. Moderating the conversation, John Negroponte, Vice Chairman of McLarty Associates, asked what changes the future might hold given lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic. McKenna, admitting there is no crystal ball, said she expected to see a continued blend of physical and online purchasing. Customer behavior is always changing, and customers want more convenience and flexibility. Walmart intends to meet customers where they are.

Turning to the issue of sustainability, Ambassador Negroponte asked about Walmart’s commitment to combat climate change. McKenna reinforced that sustainability is mission critical to doing business. The company aims to be regenerative and meet zero emissions by 2040. These goals are possible only through collaboration with stakeholders along the entire supply chain, in manufacturing, and at the retail level.

Locally, the teams are really applying their knowledge of how to be good partners with everybody that Walmart touches in a market.

Judith McKenna

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Empowering local teams to drive crisis response allows large corporations to be more nimble and responsive to community- and country-level needs.
  • As customer behavior changes, companies need to react quickly to meet their preferences.
  • Learn more about Walmart’s climate work here.