The e-retailer puts out a fulfillment call that could, by one estimate, increase its warehouse workforce by 10%.
Comparable-stores sales in the U.S. declined 0.3% as total net sales rose 2%.
Wal-Mart didn’t provide details on web sales, but for the third quarter ended Oct. 31 reported:
- Global e-commerce sales grew 40%.
- Total net sales increased 1.6% to $114.87 billion from $113.07 billion.
- Comparable-store sales for Wal-Mart locations in the U.S., including gasoline sales, dropped 0.3%.
- Comparable-store sales for all U.S. locations, including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club with fuel sales, declined 0.2%.
- Net income increased 2.8% to $3.73 billion from $3.63 billion.
While stores sales dropped, Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke told Wall Street analysts on an earnings call that worldwide e-commerce sales, especially in China, were extremely robust. “Global e-commerce continues to deliver impressive sales results,” Duke told analysts. “Including sales from Yihaodian, third quarter sales grew nearly 40%. Wal-Mart owns 51% of Yihaodian, one of China’s biggest online mass merchants.
Wal-Mart’s e-commerce channel continues to grow in other international markets as well, Duke told analysts. “We are pleased with the results of our e-commerce business in Canada and during the quarter traffic was up 42% and sales up 96% over the prior year,” Duke told analysts. “We’re pleased with the growth of e-commerce sales in Brazil where we now average 12 million monthly visitors and sales were up more than 50%.
To sustain rapid growth in its online channel, Wal-Mart continues to invest heavily in e-commerce operations. In the call with analysts Wal-Mart said investments in e-commerce would impact earnings about 10 cents a share. As Wal-Mart has 3.24 billion shares outstanding, that figure suggests Wal-Mart’s global investment in e-commerce this year is in the range of $324 million.
“We expanded our fulfillment network around the world, including new facilities in Texas, Brazil and China across our four web sites and @WalmartLabs team made significant advances in personalization by building a new sophisticated recommendation engine that is a big leap forward from where we were previously,” chief financial officer Charles Holley told analysts. “Our goal is to have robust product offerings for our customers in every market, and we continue to add assortment both through the core businesses and through our marketplace partners.”
Walmart.com, has been allowing other retailers to sell on its site in a limited way, is expanding its marketplace as a way to increases its online selection. The number of SKUs on Walmart.com has increased as a result from 2 million to 5 million this year, company executives say.