Thank you Willie! Willie has been delighting his customers for nearly a decade! Let’s show them how you do it, Willie! Can I get a bam? Kids call him “Mr. Willie,” the “bam man.” And get this: He’s also the proud Dad to eight kids, 19 grandkids, has been married for 60 years, and he is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps! And guess what, Mr. Willie has been remixed and gone viral. He’s got over 1.4 million views on YouTube.
What’s the word for it? Bam! Thank you Mr. Willie! We appreciate you. Isn’t he awesome?
Good morning Walmart! Have you had a good week? Congratulations on earning your way here! Give your neighbor a BAM for making it to the Shareholders’ meeting. I love that remix because it’s about one of you and it has a great beat.
It has gotten stuck in my head. Good music will do that. Songs are made up of the music and the lyrics. They have verses that tell stories. The best songs have a chorus you remember. You’ve got BAM stuck in your head now, don’t you?
That’s the chorus in Willie’s song. Together as a company, we write verses that tell a story and the thing that connects the verses, the chorus for Walmart is our people. People like you and Willie. It’s your beat, the work you do, that brings it all together. I don’t know how you feel but to me, it feels like we’re writing some pretty good music these days. Here’s the verse we’ve written with our results from just last year.
Verse 1: Delivering Results
Customer visits are up. We’re bringing prices down. We’re managing inventory and in-stock well. Sales were up over $13 billion dollars last year in constant currency and total revenue was $486 billion. Earnings-per-share were higher than we expected coming in to the year. Thirty-one and a half billion dollars in operating cash flow gives us the fuel to grow. And we returned $14.5 billion dollars to shareholders. Well done. Thank you! There’s a word to capture how those results make us feel. What’s the word for it? BAM!
Verse 2: Creating Shared Value
We’re also writing a verse with our service in communities around the world. We’re using our strengths to help others.to create shared value for our business and for society. Customers have always trusted us for our low prices but they also want to know that the products they buy are good for their families, the people that made them and the planet.
Many of the suppliers that produce these products are women. In 2011 we pledged to source $20 billion from women-owned businesses and we met that goal last year! One of those women is Sarah Frey. Sarah, would you please stand? She’s a farmer and she started selling watermelons to one of our stores in Illinois out of her pickup truck when she was just 19 years old.
And guess what? Last year she sold us over 5 million watermelons! When it comes to watermelons and pumpkins in the U.S., we don't know of a larger grower and she is a job creator in seven states! Thank you, Sarah. Way to go!
Last year, we met another goal that we started in 2011. We supported training in retail, in factories and on farms for 1 million women around the world! You belong to a company that is making a difference in people’s lives! How do those results make us feel? What’s the word for it? BAM!
We’re not stopping there. We recently set new goals to increase the use of renewable energy to take a gigaton of emissions out of our supply chain, to create zero waste in our operations and sell more sustainable products. Here in the U.S. we’re really proud that we’re on track to achieve a 10 year commitment to source an additional $250 billion dollars in products that support American jobs! Our suppliers work with us in all these efforts and I'd like to ask them to stand. Thank you all! We appreciate your leadership.
Our world is increasingly transparent and we’re out to earn trust. When people shine a light on Walmart and see our decisions, the jobs we create, the activities in our supply chain we want them to like what they see. We’ll make good choices—not only as it relates to creating shared value, but also when it comes to ethics and compliance.
We would rather have a bad financial result than take a short cut. We want your children and mine to be proud of the choices you and I make and the things we do.
We have a strong set of core values and this verse we’re writing is about more than just financial results. We value more than that. While our values aren’t changing, lots of other things are. As we often say, the only thing that is constant at Walmart is… change. Technology is changing what customers expect and how they shop.
Verse 3: Serving Customers
The next verse in our song is about them…our customers. They are the reason we have jobs. If we don’t get ahead of where they’re going, they’ll choose to shop somewhere else. So, where are they headed? Well, they’ve always wanted the best prices. They want value for their hard-earned money. And they want great merchandise—high quality, something new—something that’s just flat out awesome! And today more than ever, customers expect and deserve to save time. Time is a currency like money. They want an easy, enjoyable experience without friction. It's got to be fast!
The historic trade-off between price and service doesn't really exist anymore. We’re creating a better shopping experience for customers and a better working experience for ourselves as we strive to serve them. Here is an example:
Toni Hayes started as an overnight stocker but now she manages our grocery department in Store 622 in Oklahoma City. Toni, would you please stand. A few weeks ago, Toni showed me how she delivers modular accuracy and in-stock with a new app we’ve developed for our mobile devices. With this new app, Toni enjoys her work more and she’s getting her section work done faster. This gives her more time to serve customers. Toni impressed me with her desire to learn and use new tools. There’s something I want to say to Toni. What’s the word for it? BAM! Thank you Toni! Let’s look at more examples.
Shirpaa Manoharan is a personalization engineer using machine learning to monitor the weather and make sure we’re sending swimsuits to Florida and rain coats to Seattle at the right time. Carlos Kirk is an Internet of Things engineer. He’s experimenting with in-store sensors to provide real time inventory and price changes. And Bowen Gong is a data scientist on the Sam’s Club Technology team. He leads computer vision efforts that are aimed at eliminating the checkout process all together.
We’re experimenting and inventing. We have tests going on with digital endless aisle shopping, automated pickup towers in stores, automated pickup stations in the parking lot; robotics and image analytics to scan aisles for outs; the use of blockchain to improve food safety and machine learning in our pricing systems to assist merchants
And we’re doing more than just testing, we’re scaling things like two-day free shipping with no membership fee on millions of items; a pickup discount when customers want to pick it up; grocery pickup around the world, including a growing pickup business at Sam’s Club. We're piloting the use of stores as shipping locations in China and Japan. And Jet Fresh delivery is now available to half the U.S. population and growing!
We have started to invent the future of shopping again. We’re making every day easier for busy families and we’re using new ways of working to do it. You’re writing a really great song right now and it’s awesome to hear. What’s the word for it? BAM!
And there will be more where that came from. As exciting as that is, I want to be clear that we don’t believe technology is the answer to everything.
Verse 4: Our People Make the Difference
The secret to our success will always be our people. No doubt our work will be different in the future— robots, drones and algorithms will do some work that we used to have to do. Some people are afraid of what these changes will bring. I don’t think we should be. Instead, I think we should recognize that we’ll be able to learn, grow and change together. All of us at Walmart, and more broadly in business, education and government-- must work together to ensure that this generation and the next are trained and ready with the skills they need to succeed.
From the invention of the steam engine, to putting a man on the moon, to mobile devices...as technology has changed society has adapted and our lives have gotten better. But sometimes change can be hard and we must be prepared to embrace change and learn new ways of living and working. We’re all doing that now. It would be hard for me to find anyone in this arena that doesn’t have their smart phone within reach. It’s now integrated into your life and mine. We see the opportunity to improve our business and help lead this change.
Today, we're building a new Walmart. As we're re-inventing how we serve customers,
we're preparing you with the latest tools and training to serve them and grow in your career.
We'll be lifelong learners. You can see the beginning of our work with our academies in the U.S. and the U.K .and the technology we’re placing in your hands.
Looking ahead, we will compete with technology, but win with people. We will be people-led and tech-empowered. We will win because we are purpose driven, with clear and meaningful values and an effective and resilient culture. It will be our humanity that drives our creativity, powers our competitive spirit and keeps us out in front. We want everyone to be part of this. We embrace diversity in this company and are committed to creating inclusive environments in every store and in every part of our business.
We have all kinds of jobs and we want the most talented people in them. You can learn to run a store be a leader in a distribution center, drive a truck, run a tire center or lead a customer care center. We’re growing jobs in new areas. We have data scientists, machine-learning engineers, and mobile app developers to name a few. More than ever Walmart will be a ladder of opportunity—a place where you can build your dreams and grow. Let me introduce you to a few other people I’ve come across this year who are doing just that.
Meet Amanda Sykes and Susan China. They run the seafood and meat counters in our Wakefield store in England. I think they’re a little crazy but in the best way. Between them they have 55 years of service with us. They are working moms and, they've told me that over the years, they've loved the flexibility their job gave them to be great moms and colleagues at the same time. When I was in their store, I was complementing some other colleagues on our pizzas when they heard me and said,
“Hey, those pizzas look good but come over here and let us show you how it’s done.” Their seafood counter looked fantastic! Then they laid the big news on me... they told me they had been voted the best meat and fish counter in the whole country in 2015! Not just the best Asda meat and fish counter in the country...but the best counter in the whole United Kingdom! They make our customers feel ... What’s the word for it? BAM!
And I mentioned earlier that customers want great items and great merchandise. Well, let me introduce you to a merchant. Please say hello to Ricardo Costa, the store manager of our Heartland store near Toronto. He started with us 19 years ago as an hourly associate in the garden center. He’s done such a good job being an item merchant that he’s earned what we call “Maverick” status in Canada which means he gets even more freedom to merchandise his store. He reminded me of Sam Walton because he was taking side counter items that he knew he could explode in sales and featuring them in a big way. It wasn’t a computer that made those decisions. It was a merchant. It was Ricardo.
And Ricardo, I know you recently applied for a promotion to lead a group of stores in your market. Well we’re delighted to tell you that you got the job! Congratulations and thank you! We all need to be merchants like Ricardo.
This is our moment. Our plan to win is clear...and it'll be you who will make the difference. But it's always been that way. Our people make the difference. It's your beat. You form the chorus of our song. The ones that make it happen are people like you, like Toni, like Ricardo, like Susan and Amanda and like Willie. We're making some beautiful music together! Thank you!