FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KFSM) — Walmart's new InHome Delivery service, announced early Friday morning, is expected to be the hot topic at the annual Shareholders and Associates Celebration on Friday (June 7).
The annual event, a combination of business talk and celebrity entertainment, took place at the Bud Walton Arena on the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. As with each year, associates flown in from around the world were in attendance, along with the top brass from Walmart corporate.
Also, as usual, the celebrity guest host wasn't announced until the start of Friday's meeting at 8 a.m. This year's celebrity host was actress Jennifer Garner, who mentioned her past projects, the TV show "Alias" and the film "13 Going on 30."
"Both are available at Walmart.com and on Vudu!" she joked, referring to Walmart's website and its streaming TV and movie service.
Brett Banks, Chief Financial Officer for Walmart, took the stage to talk about Walmart's revenue. He said Walmart's revenue this year was $514 billion. He said they've grown the company's sales by $32 billion in the last three years.
Banks said Walmart's eCommerce sales grew 40 percent over the last two years. Sam's Club's sales increased by 5.7 percent last year. Its international markets show positive growth in 8 of the company's 10 international markets. He also mentioned Walmart's acquisition of Flipkart, India's largest eCommerce retailer.
Banks then told the associates that since they made it through the stats, they "deserve a treat," and he introduced award-winning country music artists Lady Antebellum. They performed several of their hits, including one of their biggest, "Need You Now."
Marc Lore, president and CEO of eCommerce U.S. for Walmart, took the stage after Lady Antebellum. Lore showed off the company's new virtual reality tools aimed at helping customers find the products they want. They also mentioned new brands they've added, including "Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara." Vergara herself later took the stage with Lore to talk about her clothing line.
Lore also discussed Walmart's new delivery options, including next-day delivery of about 200,000 of the items it offers. Lore also touched on Friday's announcement of InHome Delivery, the newest service that has associates delivering groceries directly into the customer's home or fridge.
Janey Whiteside, the company's first Chief Customer Officer, took the stage to tout the company's ways of saving customers' time and money through delivery, express returns and store maps in the company's mobile app.
The company has 30,000 personal shoppers it uses for Walmart's grocery pickup and delivery services, Whiteside said.
Carrie Vogue, Principal Product Manager at Sam's Club, and John Furner, president and CEO of Sam's Club, talked about the company's innovations, including Sam's Club Now.
Sam's Club Now, located in the Dallas metro area, is the company's first cashier-less store that is serving as an incubator for new technologies, including barcode-less scanning through its Scan & Go app and augmented reality.
Furner talked about the company's new app, Ask Sam, which allows users to ask their phone about products in Sam's Club instead of trying to tracking down an associate.
"It's now live, and it's already answered 1.5 million questions," Furner said.
Neon Trees then took the stage to perform for the associates, including their hit songs "Animals" and "Everybody Talks."
The business portion resumed afterward when Greg Penner, Walmart Chairman, took the stage. He introduced the members of the Walmart family present, including Jim Walton, who was celebrating a birthday.
"Jim, happy 71st birthday to you, we have a little party for you," Penner joked.
Penner and the Waltons introduced the winner of the Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year Award, which is given to a Walmart associate.
The award went to a Fremont, Nebraska, store manager, Carrie Hungerford, and her associates who helped other associates and residents recover from a massive flood. Hungerford was a 16-year veteran of the company who started as a cashier there.
CEO and President Doug McMillon had featured Hungerford and the Fremont store in a Facebook post back in March, showing the associates collecting goods for those in need.
After the award presentation, artist Bebe Rexha took the stage to perform her hit song "Me, Myself & I," as well as her collaboration with Florida Georgia Line, "Meant to Be."
Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and Garner discussed the company's philanthropic work, including a charity with which Garner works, Save the Children, which helps families from low-income communities. Foran used the story of Garner's work to encourage associates to keep the "spark" of assistance and compassion alive in their communities.
Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, discussed some of the international teams innovations, including CashIt in Mexico. Gui Loureiro, president of Walmart Mexico and Central America, discussed Walmart's payment and financial services. CashIt allows customers to use a digital wallet to pay not only in Walmart, but also for internet services, such as Netflix and Spotify. The service is aimed at the third of the population in Mexico who doesn't have a credit card or bank account.
McKenna also discussed some of the new innovations, including new robots that are being used in distribution centers and other innovations through Omega 8, a Chinese incubator of 50 startups that are providing cutting-edge technology for the company and the industry. McKenna also touched on the work in India through Flipkart, which Walmart acquired last year for $16 billion.
Garner returned to the stage to announce that she was teaming up with Walmart for a new initiative, "#SparkKindness."
"You can be the spark that ignites the passion in others for good," Garner told the associates.
She challenged the associates to post their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag. Walmart will take 25 of the posts in the challenge, and those will work with Walmart.org to recommend a Walmart grant to a charity.
Garner then introduced country music artist Maren Morris, who performed her hit song "The Bones," as well as her hit song "The Middle."
McMillon took the stage afterward to wrap up the business portions of the event. McMillon thanked the associates for their innovations. He talked about how the company worked to solved problems, or as they call them in Walmart, "opportunities."
"But the voice in my head keeps saying, some things are just flat-out problems," he said.
He said the outlook on the future depends on the company's ability to solve problems "well enough and fast enough."
"Just as in the past, our future depends on solving problems for customers," he said. McMillon discussed wait time as one of the problems. He relayed the story of how waiting in line to fix a tire at Walmart turned into "Sam's Garage," a mobile app that will drop a 30-minute wait time to 5 minutes. The app will launch in July, McMillon said.
He then detailed the newly announced InHome Delivery, as well as keeping customers stocked all the time on certain products through the service.
Deliveries are done by associates who have been with the company at least a year. Customers will be able to watch the deliveries live via the associate's wearable camera, or the customer can watch the delivery later through the app.
McMillon thanked the technology team for its innovations that were helping the company evolve and solve problems.
He also discussed the "investments" in associates through raises, bonuses and $1 a day tuition for college students.
"Your company is strong, and the company is big," McMillon said. But the company wanted to be the best, not the biggest, he said.
He said the company also wanted to help communities and the environment, touching on Project Gigaton. The goal is to eliminate 1 billion metric tons of emissions from the company's supply chain. More than 1,000 of the company's suppliers have signed on the last two years, eliminating 93 million metric tons of emissions.
"Our efforts are aimed at making that supply chain more efficient and less wasteful," he said. "And we want the people participating in that supply chain to thrive."
McMillon said 28 percent of the company is now powered by renewable energy, and 78 percent of its global waste is diverted.
He also praised the diversity and philanthropy. The company has hired more than 225,000 U.S. veterans since 2013, McMillion said, and donated $1.4 billion in cash and in-kind gifts last year. Walmart had also donated more than 4 billion meals since 2014.
"You see opportunities. You solve problems. You are the solution," McMillon told the crowd.
The event concluded with Garner introducing the final performance by One Republic, who performed their newest single, "Rescue Me," as well as their hit songs "I Lived" and "Counting Stars."
Early in the meeting, Penner briefly touched on Wednesday's shareholder's vote, which included a proposal presented by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. The three corporate proposals, which included electing the board of directors and hiring a law firm. The shareholders proposals failed, including Sanders' proposal to raise the company's minimum wage to $15 an hour, what he called a "living wage." Walmart countered that it had initiated base raises to $11 an hour and more bonuses, which raised the hourly wages to more than $14 an hour.
You can see a video of the event here.