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Meet the Experts: Top Walmart Executive Details the Future of Retail

by Janelle Hill Apr 18, 2021

What does the next generation of grocery shopping look like? 

Scott Eckert, a top executive at Walmart, sees store associates not only doing your shopping for you, but then coming into your home to put your groceries away. In fact, it’s already happening. 

Eckert discussed “Disruption, Innovation, and The Future of Retail” during the third installment of the Council for Retail and Sales’ (CRS) Meet the Experts series. 

He described Walmart’s new InHome feature, which uses smart delivery technology to deliver groceries in people’s homes or garages. The retail giant has already rolled out the pilot program in three markets, and it’s eyeing an expansion. 

“It’s hard to beat the convenience of returning home to a fully-stocked fridge,” Eckert, SVP, Next Generation Retail and Principal, Store No. 8, said.

He told the audience that the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the shift to instant, on demand, and ultra-convenient shopping. Personalization also has changed, with customers now expecting retailers to know what they like. 

“We, as a retail industry, need to brace for these trends and adapt accordingly,” Eckert said. 

In addition to the new InHome feature, Walmart is also building micro-fulfillment centers inside or attached to existing stores. These centers serve to keep inventory close to the customer and slash delivery time.  

Eckert also detailed IRL, or Intelligent Retail Lab, which uses AI technology to outfit stores with cameras and sensors. The goal—to improve both the customer and associate experience with better inventory and safer, cleaner stores.

“There is an understanding within Walmart that this business is moving even faster than it used to,” he said. “Part of that acceleration is all this technology coming into the retail space. There has to be a constant understanding that this is a business that’s moving fast, and we have to move fast too.” 

The Council for Retail and Sales (CRS) is a leading authority on issues and solutions that face the retailing and sales industries. It started at Kutztown University in 2009, and it is currently housed at DeSales’ Division of Business.