Walmart PESTLE Analysis

An Overview on Walmart

Walmart is one of the most well-known retail chains in the world, and for good reason. With over 10,500 stores operating under 58 banners in 27 countries, Walmart employs a staggering 2.1 million associates worldwide. In the U.S. alone, 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. With numbers like those, it’s no wonder Walmart has become a ubiquitous part of many people’s shopping habits.

Founded in: 1962
Headquarters: Bentonville, Arkansas, United States
Industry: Retail
Current CEO: Doug McMillon
Annual Revenue [2023]: US$ 611.3 Billion 
Employee Count: ~2.1 million

But Walmart isn’t resting on its laurels and massive customer base. They are continuously evolving to meet changing consumer demands through innovations like grocery pickup and delivery services, financial services, healthcare clinics, and enhanced eCommerce capabilities. For example, Walmart Grocery now accounts for over 58.8% of Walmart’s estimated $420.6 billion in U.S. net sales with new options like InHome Delivery where associates place groceries directly into your refrigerator.

Walmart’s Main Products and Services
Groceries, Clothing and Apparel, Electronics, Home and Furniture, Health and Beauty, Automotive Supplies, Toys and Games, Sporting Goods, Pharmacy and Healthcare Services, Jewelry and Watches, Pet Supplies, Office Supplies, Books and Magazines, Outdoor and Camping Equipment, Baby and Toddler Products, Party Supplies, Home Improvement, Gardening and Outdoor Living, Personal Care Products, Financial Services
Brand Portfolio of Walmart
Great Value, Equate, George, Parent’s Choice, Mainstays, Hanes, Ozark Trail, Athletic Works, Sam’s Choice, ReliOn, Hyper Tough, Pen + Gear, Ol’ Roy, Equate, Special Kitty, Play Day
Competitiors of Walmart
Amazon, Costco, Target, Kroger, Alibaba, Home Depot, Best Buy, Dollar General, Aldi, CVS Health, Walgreens, Macy’s, Dollar Tree, Lowe’s, Tesco, JCPenney, Carrefour, 7-Eleven, Sears, Kmart

With millions of daily transactions and a customer base that spans across demographics, it’s clear that Walmart has a broad appeal. In this article we’ll learn Walmart’s PESTLE analysis to understand the various external drivers and obstacles for the retail giant.

Political Factors Affecting Walmart

Government Rules and Regulations

As a large retailer, Walmart is subject to many government regulations at the federal, state, and local levels. These include labor laws like minimum wage and overtime requirements; consumer protection regulations related to pricing, advertising, and product safety; zoning laws that dictate where stores can be built; and many more.

Complying with all these rules requires significant resources and affects many aspects of Walmart’s operations. However, the regulations aim to protect workers, consumers, communities, and the environment, so following them is important despite the cost.

Labour Laws

Walmart employs over 2 million people in the US. Labor legislation around minimum wage, benefits, and unionization directly affects Walmart’s workforce costs and how they manage employees. More progressive labor laws could raise Walmart’s costs. They lobby heavily against laws that strengthen organized labor.

In past Walmart has faced high-profile strikes and protests from groups like OUR Walmart that call for higher wages. This negative publicity has pressured Walmart to incrementally raise wages. Lawsuits over worker classification, overtime rules, and benefit eligibility have impacted Walmart’s labor costs and HR practices.

Trade Policy

Walmart relies mostly on importing cost effective goods from foreign countries like China. Trade policies directly affect Walmart by influencing the cost of imported goods through tariffs and import regulations, which can impact consumer pricing and profit margins.

These policies also disrupt supply chains, affect sourcing decisions, and influence supplier relationships, impacting Walmart’s competitive position, pricing strategies, and overall business approach. For instance, the trade war with China caused prices to fluctuate on many imported goods sold by Walmart.

Government Contracts

Governmental support and contracts can impact Walmart by providing various benefits, such as tax incentives, subsidies, or contracts for government procurement. For example, they receive subsidies and tax breaks for activities like job creation, infrastructure investments, and entering underserved markets.

Walmart also contracts with government agencies to provide products and services, like selling groceries through the SNAP/food stamps program. They benefit from infrastructure spending that expands access to their stores. While this governmental support aims to encourage business activity and serve public needs, it also draws criticism around preferential treatment.

Economic Factors Affecting Walmart

Consumer Spending Patterns

Walmart’s sales and profits are directly and heavily influenced by overall consumer spending patterns. During times when consumers are spending more freely, Walmart tends to see increased sales and revenue growth. However, the oppostite can be seen during economic downturns. Walmart often struggles with slower sales.

Walmart aims to provide value pricing to appeal to consumers in all economic climates, while optimizing its extensive supply chain and logistics infrastructure to adjust to consumer demand. The retailer’s broad assortment and one-stop shopping convenience also helps it withstand shifts in specific category spending.

Economic Slowdown and Recession

Walmart’s business model is well-positioned to thrive during economic downturns due to its focus on low prices, cost efficiencies, and everyday value, appealing to budget-conscious consumers. The company’s diversified store portfolio, strategic global expansion, e-commerce investments, and emphasis on the grocery segment contribute to its stability during recessions. But still even Walmart is not immune to economic downturns, particularly if consumer spending slows down.

During economic slowdowns and recessions, consumers tend to cut back on discretionary spending and seek out lower-priced options for necessities. This benefits Walmart, as its EDLP (every day low prices) strategy and focus on value attracts more budget-conscious shoppers. At the same time, reduced consumer spending negatively impacts Walmart’s growth. However, its size, scale, and discount retail model allow it to withstand downturns better than other retailers

Supply Chain Costs

Walmart relies on an extensive and complex global supply chain to provide customers with low-cost products. Increases in supply chain costs – such as transportation, logistics, raw materials, and manufacturing – can negatively impact Walmart’s profit margins.

Walmart continually works to optimize its supply chain to keep costs low through strategies like vertically integrating transportation, using technology to forecast demand, developing supplier partnerships, and pushing for lower supplier prices. But external factors like fuel prices and inflation can still drive up supply expenses, making it challenging for Walmart to maintain its Every Day Low Price commitment while protecting profitability.

Real Estate Prices

As a major retailer with thousands of store locations, Walmart is highly exposed to fluctuations in real estate prices. Rising real estate prices can negatively impact Walmart by increasing the company’s costs to buy and lease retail spaces for new stores.

Additionally, if real estate prices rise substantially in areas where Walmart already has stores, the company may face higher lease renewal rates. This could lead Walmart to close underperforming locations if the real estate costs become too high. Walmart must strategically manage its real estate portfolio and store locations to succeed amid shifting real estate market conditions.

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Social Factors Affecting Walmart

Diversity And Inclusion Factors In Hiring And Marketing

Walmart is facing some controversy regarding its diversity and inclusion efforts. On one hand, the company says it wants to promote diversity in its workforce and marketing to connect with its diverse customer base. That makes sense – having employees from different backgrounds helps you understand different perspectives. And showing diversity in ads can make more people feel welcomed.

But as of May 2023, Walmart is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC says Walmart discriminated against some employees with disabilities by firing them for not passing an employment test. That’s disappointing to hear after Walmart claimed to value diversity and inclusion.

Tech Utilization in Retail and Operations

Walmart is always looking for new ways to improve their stores and make shopping easier for customers. They’ve been putting a lot of effort into using technology to upgrade their operations behind the scenes and enhance the customer experience. For starters, they’re using more automation and artificial intelligence to help manage inventory and coordinate their massive supply chain.It allows them to predict customer demand more accurately and ensure products are stocked efficiently.

And have you used the Walmart app or website lately? They’ve been expanding their online capabilities so that customers can shop seamlessly between stores and online. The data they collect from these digital platforms also provides valuable insights into customer behavior and preferences. Walmart is even testing cutting-edge innovations like blockchain, drone delivery, and more.

Changing Generational Shopping Patterns and Brand Allegiance

As new generations like Millennials and Gen Z become the dominant shopper demographic, they are less brand loyal and more price conscious than prior generations. This provides both challenges and opportunities for Walmart.

Walmart needs to appeal to these generations’ desires for value and convenience, while also building brand loyalty in a shifting retail landscape. If Walmart can cater to emerging generational needs through omnichannel shopping and evolve its brand image, it can solidify its market leadership. However, if it fails to adapt, Walmart risks losing market share as shoppers change stores based on deals rather than habit.

Community Involvement via Philanthropy and Local Collaborations

Walmart engages in philanthropy and local collaborations as part of its community involvement efforts, which helps build goodwill and trust with local communities where it operates stores. This includes charitable donations through the Walmart Foundation to support local causes, partnerships with food banks and other nonprofits to fight hunger and provide disaster relief, working with local suppliers and vendors to source products, hiring local residents, and participating in community events and organizations.

By positively engaging with and investing in the communities surrounding its stores, Walmart aims to show it cares about more than just profit and is a responsible community partner. This community involvement helps maintain Walmart’s social license to operate, builds its brand reputation, and ultimately benefits its business performance and growth.

Technological Factors Affecting Walmart

Utilizing Social Media for Marketing and Brand Visibility

Walmart can benefit greatly from utilizing social media for marketing and increasing brand visibility. By having active social media accounts and engaging content, Walmart can reach a wide audience to promote products and deals, share brand messaging, and interact with customers.

This can help boost brand awareness, foster customer loyalty and engagement, drive website traffic and sales, get feedback, and stay on trend with marketing.

Automation and Robotics for Streamlining Supply Chain and Operations

Walmart has been investing heavily in supply chain automation and robotics in recent years to improve efficiency and reduce costs.

They have introduced autonomous floor cleaning robots in stores, automated pickup towers for online orders, drones for inventory management in warehouses, and self-driving trucks to transport goods between distribution centers. These technologies allow Walmart to reduce labor costs, track inventory faster, accelerate fulfillment of online orders, optimize truck loading, and free up employees for more value-added tasks.

Digital Transformation and Adoption of E-commerce Platforms

Walmart has invested heavily in digital transformation and adopting e-commerce platforms over the past decade. They acquired in 2016 to boost their online retail capabilities and have rolled out numerous e-commerce initiatives since. Walmart has developed a robust omnichannel strategy, integrating their brick-and-mortar stores with their online presence.

Customers can now shop online and pick up in-store or have items delivered. The adoption of e-commerce has been critical for Walmart to keep pace with competitor Amazon and meet shifting consumer preferences toward online shopping. The digital focus allows Walmart to leverage its extensive physical infrastructure while reaching customers through new digital channels and offerings.

Innovations in Digital Payments, Self-Checkout, and Scan-and-Go Technologies

Walmart has embraced digital payment options like Walmart Pay, contactless credit cards, and mobile wallets to provide customers with convenient and secure checkout experiences. The retailer has also heavily invested in scan-and-go technologies, where customers use a mobile app to scan items as they shop then pay directly through the app, skipping the checkout line.

Walmart has introduced this across many stores to speed up the shopping experience. Additionally, Walmart has deployed self-checkout kiosks in the majority of its stores, enabling customers to scan and bag their own items. This increases checkout efficiency, especially during peak shopping times.

Environmental Factors Affecting Walmart

Adoption of Renewable Energy Sources With Solar and Wind Power

Walmart could benefit from adopting more renewable energy sources like solar and wind power. By installing solar panels on store rooftops and contracting with wind farms to provide electricity, Walmart could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and lower its carbon footprint.

For example, Walmart has already installed solar panels on over 350 stores and distribution centers. Expanding these efforts would allow Walmart to market itself as a more sustainable company, appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers, and reduce long-term energy costs through cheaper renewable sources. The transition may require significant upfront investment, but over time would provide financial and reputational benefits for the retail giant.

Sustainable Practices in Packaging and Shipping

almart has an opportunity to adopt more sustainable practices in its product packaging and shipping operations. By using recycled materials, biodegradable plastics, and thinner/lighter packaging, Walmart could reduce its environmental footprint.

Transitioning to electric vehicles for delivery and prioritizing rail over air freight for long distance transport would also decrease emissions. These changes would require upfront investments, but could bolster Walmart’s reputation with environmentally-conscious customers.

For example, Walmart has pledged to reduce plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 and is working with suppliers to develop sustainable alternatives. By becoming an industry leader in sustainable packaging and shipping, Walmart can reduce waste, lower costs over time, and position itself as a more eco-friendly retail brand.

Responding to Customer Demand for Eco-Friendly Products & Practices

Walmart has an opportunity to meet rising customer demand for more eco-friendly products and business practices. By increasing its organic food selection, adding more fair trade certified goods, and actively promoting products made from recycled materials, Walmart can appeal to environmentally conscious shoppers.

Transitioning to more sustainable operations like renewable energy and reduced packaging also caters to this audience. Although investing in these changes may raise costs initially, doing so could boost Walmart’s brand image and allow it to charge premium prices for earth-friendly merchandise.

For example, Walmart has added over 2,000 environmentally preferable products to its shelves and has set a goal to sell $25 billion in food grown using sustainable practices. Catering to eco-minded customers can help Walmart future-proof its business.

Mitigating Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Supply Chain & Transportation Operations

Walmart can significantly reduce its environmental impact by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions across its operations. By optimizing logistics, switching to electric vehicles, and engaging suppliers to improve efficiency, Walmart can shrink its carbon footprint.

The company can also utilize renewable energy in warehouses and set supplier standards for emission reduction targets. Though operational changes may require substantial investment initially, they can help Walmart meet sustainability goals, lower costs over time, and satisfy environmentally-minded stakeholders.

For example, Walmart aims to reduce supply chain emissions by 1 billion metric tons by 2030 through clean energy initiatives and sustainable sourcing. Leading in supply chain emission mitigation enables Walmart to boost its reputation, comply with regulation, and contribute to the fight against climate change.

Legal Factors Affecting Walmart

Workforce Regulations – Wages, Benefits, and Worker Protections

Evolving labor regulations around minimum wage, healthcare, paid time off and other benefits substantially influence Walmart’s workforce strategy and costs. While transitioning to a higher-compensated workforce poses near-term cost challenges, boosting pay and protections may also decrease turnover and increase productivity by improving employee satisfaction, health and loyalty.

Stricter standards provide an opportunity for Walmart to invest in talent and reputation. For example, Walmart has already committed to average wages over $15 per hour, expanded paternal leave, and implemented career development training. Though regulations raise operating expenses, they can also help Walmart attract and retain quality employees in a tight labor market, enhancing customer service and value perception.

Intellectual Property Laws and Brand-Related Products

Intellectual property regulations significantly impact Walmart’s retail strategy and product assortment. Copyright, trademark and patent laws govern which brands and products Walmart can legally merchandise.

While strong IP protections restrict replicating competitors’ offerings, they also empower Walmart to cultivate owned brands like Equate without imitation concerns. Clear IP frameworks facilitate major brand partnerships with companies like Apple and Disney for licensed merchandise.

Global Supply Chain Impacts of Import/Export Regulations

Trade policy fluctuations significantly impact Walmart’s global supply chain. Importing restrictions like tariffs can substantially increase sourcing costs. However, as a market leader, Walmart leverages its scale to lobby for exemptions.

Adapting to new regulations requires agile supply chain methods like shifting manufacturing. For example, when facing potential tariffs from US-China trade tensions, Walmart worked with suppliers to shift production to other low-cost countries like India and Vietnam. Even though the regulatory issues presents sourcing obstacles, Walmart’s vendor partnerships and infrastructure provide resilience versus smaller retailers.

Product Safety Compliance – CPSC Rules, Recalls, and FDA Regulations

For reducing regulatory risk, Walmart leverages enterprise-wide capabilities to ensure product safety and compliance. This includes, Cross-functional collaboration with merchants, QA, legal, and supply chain enables continuous monitoring and agile response to evolving regulatory standards.

Due to its large scale, Walmart institutes rigorous testing, audits, and supply chain transparency. Still, proactive change management and supplier engagement are critical to get ahead of emerging issues. Ultimately, our world-class compliance program protects our customers and reinforces trust in the Walmart brand.

To Wrap it Up….

Walmart is impacted by various political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal external factors. These forces shape Walmart’s strategies and ability to maintain its position as the world’s largest company by revenue. However, with its vast resources and adaptability, Walmart seems well-equipped to respond to emerging PESTLE trends and continue leading the retail industry in the years ahead. That wraps up this overview of the key macro-environmental influences on this retail giant.

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