Walmart’s e-commerce sales soar, pointing to an upcoming purge

Walmart today announced that its e-commerce sales rose a staggering 97 percent in the fiscal second-quarter ending July 31.

Wall Street was stunned. And with good reason. Not only is it remarkable when a company nearly doubles its online sales, it is exceedingly remarkable when the company that does so is Walmart.

That was then

It seems like just yesterday that Walmart was the epitome of the clueless, brick-and-mortar retailer that just didn’t understand the Web. As recently as July of last year, industry watchers were quick to point to Walmart’s $3.3 billion purchase of and the much smaller purchase of millennial-fashion juggernaut ModCloth as examples of exactly what not to do to build e-commerce sales.

Watching Walmart stumble as it tried to navigate the world of clicks, performance marketing, reverse logistics, and the rest felt as painful as watching aging executives don hoodies and dark glasses to rap for the youngs at the office.

This is now

Today’s earnings report shows that Walmart has left its bad old days in the past. is abandoned.  ModCloth is sold. Mistakes are unmade.

The largest retailer in the United States by revenue has found a way to succeed by pouring some of that revenue into building digital expertise, rather than buying it. The company launched an ad platform, then filled it with omnichannel data. Most importantly, Walmart is moving forward with plans to launch Walmart Plus, the company’s long-awaited and recently-delayed rival to Amazon Prime.

This is next

Brace yourself. We’re about to enter a holiday shopping season unlike any other. Barron’s estimates e-commerce holiday shopping will leap 80 percent this year from 2019 levels.

Walmart’s e-commerce operation enters the final stretch of 2020 as a force to be reckoned with. That was unimaginable this time last year. Amazon has pushed its Prime Day sale into Q4. That too was unimaginable last year. Even Kroger is now a giant force in digital advertising. That’s not what anyone predicted in 2019.

What does all this mean?

Here’s what we at <intent> think: Black Friday was once a one-day phenomenon. This year it will be something more like a months-long, digital feeding frenzy. In a world where no one is going to the store, every company imaginable is readying for online war. Even those once-too-good for the Web companies that dress the well-dressed are now dressed for online battle.

In Q4, every one of your competitors will throw marketing dollars at the same consumers, advertise on the same sites, chase the same keywords. A purge is coming. Not every e-commerce player can survive.

There are only two ways we know of to compete in an environment like this:

  • have enormously deep pockets so that you can handle paying too much for a long time, or
  • use every possible tool to develop more sophisticated approaches to customer acquisition, ad retargeting, etc.

If you’re not Walmart or some other deep-pocket monster, we should talk. We offer a product called <intent> Target that adds a layer of machine-learning sophistication on top of your marketing efforts. It is exactly the weapon you’ll need in the fight to come.

But let’s be frank. You’re running out of time. The holidays approach. Soon you’ll freeze your code. You’ll go to war with what you have. And it’s not enough.

We can help. We’re offering a 30-day free trial of <intent> Target from now through mid-September. Our clients have seen an average 20 percent jump in return on ad spend from using Target. That lets them double their ad spend to generate 2.5 times the profit.

Interested? Just drop us a line at and we’ll make it happen.