Walmart and Target: exploring opportunities in ecommerce replenishment

Date : 08 May 2017

We look at how Walmart and Target are looking at two very different opportunities in ecommerce replenishment.

Amazon Dash placed the spotlight on auto-replenishment programs

While ecommerce subscription schemes have been part of the market for several years, the launch of the Dash program by Amazon placed a spotlight on the concept of auto-replenishment. The Dash ‘buttons’ enable consumers to automatically add products to their online orders with Amazon. The launch of the Dash program has led to many similar solutions enter the marketplace, including Peroni’s beer button and Domino’s pizza button.

Walmart aiming to track usage within the home

This month it was reported by CB Insights that Walmart has filed a patent for technology that would enable it to track the way products are used at home by its shoppers after their purchase. This would include frequency of use. Based on this information, the technology would automatically re-order items when the products start to run low. It could also provide Walmart with valuable insights into consumer behaviour and enable it to make personalised recommendations that would better match their usage patterns. The main difference versus Amazon’s Dash button program is that it does not require any intervention from consumers to reorder the products.

Target Restock emulating Amazon Pantry

Meanwhile, this summer Target is aiming to emulate Amazon’s Prime program with a new initiative, Target Restock. This would enable holders of a Target REDcard to have a large box, filled with an unlimited number of items, constrained by a weight limit, shipped to their homes for a flat fee. The items will be packaged at a nearby store, allowing it to fulfill orders placed before 1.30pm by the next business day. While the service will make it more convenient for Target’s shoppers to have all their items delivered in one order, for Target it helps to reduce shipping costs.

Amazon focusing on making ecommerce more convenient

Walmart’s technology patent and Target’s imminent new service demonstrate how Amazon continues to influence the innovation agenda within the retail sector. The ecommerce retailer has been at the forefront of making it more convenient for shoppers to order their items online. Recently the launch of Alexa and Amazon Echo has placed the retailer at the forefront of voice enabled ordering, a key technology we expect to grow in dominance within ecommerce.

Stewart Samuel, Program Director, IGD Canada: based in Canada, Stewart heads up all of IGD's research and coverage on Sobeys. He is also responsible for shaping IGD's research program across North America. Contact Stewart at [email protected] for further insight on the region's markets, channels and retailers. Follow Stewart on Twitter: @Stewart_IGD