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Retail Innovations 2024 is Here: Walmart Connect Wins McMillanDoolittle’s Annual Award

McMillanDoolittle is pleased to present the 19th edition of Retail Innovations, our annual publication that showcases the most cutting-edge retail concepts. We’ve curated 52 case studies, across more than two dozen of the world’s largest retail economies, in collaboration with our global Ebeltoft Group partners. These case studies document how retail businesses are navigating evolving macrotrends, technological advancements, and shifting consumer values in novel ways.

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The 2024 roster pushes the envelope in sustainable, experiential, and technology-driven innovations.  The overarching themes among this year’s cases include:

A Better World: Leaders limit the impact of their operations on the environment and simultaneously maximize their impact on society. New concepts, processes, and technologies are emerging to move the needle on creating a more sustainable global retail industry that makes a difference in the local communities they serve.

An Enhanced Experience: Leaders curate a differentiated, memorable, and immersive retail and brand experience. In many cases, these concepts foster an interactive community surrounding the products they sell. Hosted events, premium services, and product personalization opportunities all draw shoppers into branded channels and formats. More than half of this year’s cases fall under this category – a testament to the enduring relevance and renewed focus on physical channels and formats.

Hyper-efficiency: Leaders unlock an easy and convenient omnichannel experience through advanced business processes and capabilities. With the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning, retailers are evolving their services and solutions to incorporate game-changing technologies. Many cases in this category leverage technology-based solutions for back-end operations – removing friction and streamlining operations to serve associates and customers alike.

McMillanDoolittle Innovation Award:

Walmart Connect Delivers Omnichannel Insights and Business Results

We are excited to announce this year’s McMillanDoolittle Innovation Award recipient, Walmart Connect, the growing retail media division of Walmart.  Walmart Connect presents an omnichannel marketing solution that uniquely integrates both in-store and online first-party data to offer branded advertisers a holistic view of the Walmart shopper. Through its omnichannel tracking system, brands gain the ability to assess the efficacy of their advertising efforts, enabling brands to optimize their strategy and allocate resources efficiently.

As the largest omnichannel retailer in the United States, Walmart commands significant retail market share, drives frequent shopping trips, and can activate in-store impressions across 4,700 stores across the country. As a result, Walmart Connect offers extremely valuable access to a vast number of American consumers and can facilitate symbiotic relationships between brands and consumers. The strength of this media network is evidenced by its rapid rise as the fastest growing division within Walmart. December 2023 data from Insider Intelligence suggests their ad business from search and display is expected to grow from $3.19 B in 2023 to $6.18 B in 2025, and it continues to deliver an important new source of revenues with high margins for Walmart. Retail media is projected to be the fastest growing ad channel across media through 2027.

Source: Walmart Connect

As the retail media space quickly evolves and new players join the field, it is crucial to evaluate how retail media could impact your business and determine ways to stay at the forefront. Our McMillanDoolittle team is well-versed in the retail media network landscape and would invite a complimentary consultation to discuss how your business can leverage this disruptive shift.

McMillanDoolitle Specializes in Future-Proofing Your Business

In today’s uncertain economic landscape, retailers face challenges in prioritizing strategic investments; yet, as always, embracing innovation remains paramount to achieving long-term market leadership. When reviewing the cases compiled in Retail Innovations 2024, we suggest paying special attention to ideas outside of close-in categories to challenge your thinking. Contact us to discuss how these insights can be applied to future-proof your business. Some thought starters include…

  • How can innovators that seem far-out from your products or services help your company become the next great disruptor?
  • How can your business be an agent of social or environmental change?
  • How can you reinvigorate your retail touchpoints to become more meaningful in a post-pandemic world?
  • What technology solutions could better serve your customers and associates?

#ThemeThursday will be returning this year! Stay tuned for upcoming blog and Instagram posts that feature global cases from the three thematic categories.

Maddie McBride

Maddie is an analyst on the consumer insights and innovation team at McMillanDoolittle, supporting quantitative and qualitative primary research methodologies, business analysis, strategic planning, and new concept, format and product development. She brings recent expertise in human-centered design, creative workshop facilitation, and statistical analysis to her project work. Maddie received her BA in Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

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