As Wal-Mart Stores embraces rapid change in a fast-paced world, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon said the challenge will be to make sure that those changes set the stage for a bright future for the company.
“The amount of change we will see in the next five years will be much greater than the change we’ve seen in the last five,” McMillon said.
In a speech Wednesday (March 30) at the 11th annual Single Parent Scholarship Fund of Benton County Corporate Luncheon, Wal-Mart Stores CEO Doug McMillon told 325 Walmart suppliers and community leaders that the retailer is at a critical point.
“Wal-Mart is over 50 years old now and retailers don’t typically make it through generational changes because leadership changes endanger the company,” he said. “Also industry changes endanger companies, and retailers in particular.”
In order to stay in business, McMillon said the global retailer based in Bentonville must figure out ways to change quickly to keep and win customers. However, he said, one thing Wal-Mart will never change is their purpose. He said that purpose is summed up in their mission statement: “We save people money so they can live better.”
McMillon told of recently watching a youtube video of Sam Walton receiving the Medal of Freedom from President George H. W. Bush in 1992. What struck him was Walton’s comment as he received the award. Walton said the secret to the company’s success then was helping people save money and so, have a better lifestyle. McMillon said that mission is still the most important thing Wal-Mart does and it motivates him to come to work each day.
He also said focusing on four core values helps all 2.3 million people who work for the company behave in a way that is consistent with those values. McMillon said the core values are:
• Service to the customer;
• Respect for the Individual;
• Strive for excellence; and
• Act with integrity.
In addition to focusing on core values, McMIllon said leadership has come up with strategies in the areas of “customers,” “associates” and “communities” to position the company for the future. He said customers’ lives will change greatly with continued changes in technology.
Because of that, he said, Wal-Mart will have to continue to provide the things customers expect: a broad assortment and low prices. However, the retailer will also have to come up with ways to help customers save time and have a simpler life. He cited the pick up locations as a way that Walmart is saving their customers time.
McMillon also emphasized that Wal-Mart will continue to use digital capabilities to enhance people’s lives. As an example, he told a story of using an app on his phone to find a special Japanese candy for his son at the Pleasant Grove Super Center. Through the app he was able to tell that the store had it in stock, how much was on hand and where it was located in the store.
“There are all these new ways that we can surprise and delight people and save them time as we save them money and show them some things that they didn’t expect to find,” McMIllon said. “There’s so much opportunity to get this right and we’re working hard at it.”
He said the biggest challenge is speed of implementation of new ideas and technology.
As for associates, McMillon said leadership wants people to work for Wal-Mart for a long time. He said they want to continue to hear people say, “I came here for a summer job and I’ve been here for 25 years.”
McMillon also stressed that the company uses its size and scale to make a difference in communities around the world through social and environmental issues. McMillon concluded his talk by telling the crowd that all these things lead to results and so shareholders have the win.
“This is a business,” he said.
In addition to McMillon’s talk, dentist Sarah Beers spoke to the crowd about her journey as a single mother and the help she was given as a recipient of the Single Parent Scholarship Fund from 2007-2011 during which time she attended the University of Arkansas. She would attend the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and received her doctorate of dental surgery in May of 2015.
Organizers of the fundraiser hoped to raise more than $75,000 as a result of the event.
Andrea Milton, development coordinator for SPSFBC, said since the Walton Family Foundation covers all their operational costs, all donations go directly to the scholarship program. In 2015, SPSFBC gave 419 scholarships to single parents, totaling more than $300,000. Since their beginning in 1984, SPSFBC has given over 8,000 scholarships, totaling more than $6 million.
SPSFBC’s stated mission is to enable single parents to attain self-sufficiency through post-secondary education. In addition to providing tuition, they also help recipients with rent, utilities transportation, counseling and other critical needs.