May 15, 2014, 11:31 AM

Wal-Mart’s global web sales rise 27% in Q1

The world’s largest retailer again tops Amazon in online growth in the first quarter of its fiscal year, as it did for all of 2013. Wal-Mart projects a rollout of its new e-commerce platform later this year.

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With each quarter, the world’s largest retailer is becoming a stronger force in e-commerce.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. announced today that its global e-commerce sales had increased about 27% in the company’s fiscal first quarter, which ended April 30. That followed 30% global growth in online sales in fiscal 2013. Wal-Mart operates e-commerce sites in 10 countries: the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

Wal-Mart’s 27% growth in web sales in the fiscal first quarter exceeded Amazon.com Inc.’s first quarter growth, which was 18.3% for goods Amazon sold itself on its 13 global e-commerce sites. Amazon’s total revenue in its first quarter, which ended March 31, increased 22.8%, including commissions on marketplace sales, revenue from its Amazon Web Services cloud computing unit and other items.

Wal-Mart’s 30% global online growth in its fiscal 2013 year also exceeded Amazon’s worldwide growth in online sales to consumers in 2013, which the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide estimated at 20.3%. It was the first time in at least five years that Wal-Mart grew faster online than Amazon.

Amazon.com is No. 1 in the 2014 Top 500, and Walmart.com No. 4.

There is more growth ahead for Wal-Mart in e-commerce, CEO Charles Holley promised in a recorded message for investors. “We will create transformative growth through this focus on improving the customer experience and fulfillment capacity to provide the options customers expect,” he said. He pointed as an example to Wal-Mart’s U.K. subsidiary, Asda, offering online shoppers multiple locations where they can pick up web orders and home delivery of groceries. Wal-Mart is testing home delivery of online grocery orders in Denver. Amazon offers home delivery of perishable grocery items in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Holley also noted that Wal-Mart had posted double-digit growth in web and mobile commerce in nearly all the markets in which it operates, pointing to especially strong growth in Brazil and from its Yihaodian subsidiary in China. Yihaodian is No. 6 in the Internet Retailer China 500. He also said the company would complete the rollout this year of a common technology platform called Pangea for all of its e-commerce sites worldwide. Wal-Mart previously has reported deploying pieces of that project in the form of improved site search and web site personalization.

Wal-Mart’s e-commerce growth stood in stark contrast to a weak quarter in its U.S. bricks-and-mortar stores, where same-store sales fell 0.2%. That was despite including in that calculation online sales, which contributed 0.3% to comparable-store results. Wal-Mart blamed bad weather in much of the country for the poor U.S. store results.

For its fiscal first quarter ended April 30, Wal-Mart reported:

  • Global web sales increased approximately 27%. The company did not provide a dollar figure for online sales or break out e-commerce growth by country. Wal-Mart includes in e-commerce sales orders placed online and fulfilled through its e-commerce distribution centers and an estimate of online orders fulfilled through stores.
  • Total revenue increased 0.8% to $114.960 billion from $114.070 billion in the same period a year ago.
  • Net income declined 5.6% to $3.726 billion from $3.945 billion.
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