Kantar: Walmart holds its spot as largest global retailer

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 992 views 

Walmart is still king of the hill in terms of being the largest global retailer by revenue and impact on retail around the world. Kantar released its annual ranking of global retailers that showed Walmart still has a lead over No. 2 Amazon when comparing sales metrics and international impact.

At No. 1 Walmart reported $519.93 billion in sales revenue in fiscal 2020, of which $120 billion in international revenue which was good enough to hold on to the top spot in the Kantar ranking. David Marcotte, senior vice president of global insights at Kantar, said shoppers around the world struggled to find what they needed under circumstances that changed weekly.

“Counterintuitively for many retailers, it was the best year in their history as shoppers had a range of new needs resulting from working from home and various levels of lockdowns. However, for other retailers, primarily those in malls, urban areas or in countries with strict lockdown orders, it was a year of major sales losses,” Marcotte said.

The conditions point to a clear challenge in ranking retailers internationally simply based on sales, and highlights the need to use additional metrics to establish movement up or down, he said.

Kantar’s 2020 international retailer ranking sought to minimize challenges and maximize the amount of discussion, debate, education and exploration opportunities the ranking can provide.The retailers in the report must operate in at least three countries outside their homeland. Marketplace and franchise sales were also included in the ranking. Marcotte said the Kantar rankings reflect a fresh look at the 50 most impactful international retailers based on operations at the state of 2020.

Keeping with these guidelines, Walmart was again the world’s largest retailer, domestically and internationally, with the highest overall score in the Top 50 ranking. Marcotte said Walmart is clearly challenged by Amazon, Alibaba and new Top 10 entrant JD.com, marketplace retailers with massive gross merchandise volume.

Kantar said Walmart continued to shift its business model to align with a broader omnichannel approach as it continued expanding into marketplace platforms and services. The Bentonville-based retailer still tops the international retailer ranking despite divesting from markets in Argentina, Brazil, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

“In the next Top 50, Walmart will likely remain No. 1 but with a smaller lead,” Marcotte said.

At No. 2, Amazon, with $280.52 billion in revenue, continues to move into a range of new businesses. The retail group is posting strong growth in its core markets of the United States, Canada and Europe as it expands into other countries.

“That is reflected in the retailer’s powerful capitalization and cash flow that gives it flexibility to move into new markets and expand its logistics and fulfillment group. It could take over the top position faster by purchasing an international retailer or large regional marketplace outside North America,” Marcotte noted.

Following are other notes from the Kantar report.

Germany had the third and fourth largest retailers with Schwarz Group who operates Lidl reporting $133.89 billion in revenue (U.S.) and Aldi, a competing discount grocer with $116.06 billion in revenue. Kantar said as a privately held firm, the Schwarz Group often misses the rankings, but its grocery formats dominate retail in Europe. Its Lidl discount banner has been its primary growth vehicle outside the EU, such as in the U.S., but online operations within existing markets are where most growth has occurred.

At No. 4, Aldi is one of the fastest-growing retailers in the U.S. has long been the strongest retailer in Central Europe, Marcotte said. Aldi continues to find new markets to expand into, including China. Having survived a generational change in private ownership, the company continues to integrate its global sourcing, international logistics and e-commerce operations. In the past few years, it has also remodeled stores to achieve a higher degree of shopper engagement. Aldi jumped from No. 8 to No. 4 on this year’s ranking and could move up another spot next year, he added.

Chinese e-tailer Alibaba came in fifth on the Kantar report. This company began as a business-to-business marketplace that provided Chinese manufacturers with access to global buyers. It has since expanded into all types of businesses, including retail. Still primarily a Chinese company, Alibaba is moving into new markets, courting regional manufacturers while extending its financial services.

Costco came in 6th and continues to move into power positions in markets large and small. It recently became the second-largest retailer in Canada and expanded into Australia and Europe, upsetting stable markets with new shopper expectations. Having finally moved into e-commerce, Marcotte said, the company is positioned for fast growth in existing markets with its unique value proposition. Costo reported annual revenue of $163.22 billion in 2020.

No other U.S. retailers made the top 10 with grocer Ahold Delhaize of the Netherlands, French mass market Carrefour, Ikea furniture of the Netherlands and JD.com a Chinese e-commerce retailer taking spots 7-10, respectively.

“The 2021 ranking promises even more changes as retailers adjust to shoppers emerging from lockdowns and into new economic conditions. Advancements that integrate in-store digital technology and shoppers’ homes are expected to be a major competitive differentiator. And omnichannel competency will be a given for most as shoppers of all income levels across markets demand more online and in-store integration. Next year’s evaluations will be based more on meeting local needs with global strategies and execution while exploring new shopper services,” Marcotte noted.