Find out about the retailer's strategic priorities, commercial focus areas, channel and country presence.

See data on the retailer’s performance and forecasts for its operations by channel.

This in-depth guide to China explores the key trends in grocery retail and the growth strategies of the leading retailers in the country.

Get up to speed on all of the latest retailer results, the insight into what is driving growth and IGD's five big trends to watch in Asia in 2019.

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The Japan External Trade Organisation is offering small to medium-sized domestic retailers free access to global ecommerce platforms to help them sell products in 18 markets abroad.

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Retailer partners with PhonePe to launch a unified payment interface (UPI)

Kirana owners will benefit the most

Members shopping at Walmart India’s Best Price stores can now make use of the PhonePe app to pay for their purchases. The system is now available to the one million plus members and can be used across all 23 Best Price stores in the country.

PhonePe is a digital payments platform that links directly to shoppers’ bank accounts. The PhonePe wallet is a convenient alternative for many kirana store owners that do not have credit or debit cards and relies mainly on cash transactions.  

Walmart India president and CEO Krish Iyer said, “the PhonePe payment system will help our members streamline their business processes and spend more time in their stores with customers.”

Kiranas can accept PhonePe payments

The introduction of the PhonePe UPI is part of Walmart India’s Mera Kirana programme, an initiative by the retailer to help traditional stores modernise. With kirana store owners on the PhonePe platform, these owners also have the option of introducing PhonePe as a payment channel in their own stores.

Find out more information about Walmart here.


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Walmart released its fourth quarter and fiscal year 2019 results this week. The company finished the year with good momentum and is pleased with its performances in international markets.

Walmart’s key numbers

  • Walmart's total revenue in Q4 increased by 1.9% to US$138.8bn
  • US comp store sales increased by 4.2%, and by 6.8% on a two-year basis, the strongest in nine years
  • Sam's Club comp sales increased by 3.3%, and ecommerce sales grew 21%
  • US ecommerce sales increased 40% for the full year
  • Net sales at Walmart International were US$32.3bn, a decline of 2.3%. Excluding currency, net sales were US$34.0bn, an increase of 2.7%

Fiscal year 2019 highlights: Asia

  • Acquired majority stake in Flipkart Group, India’s leading eCommerce business
  • Increased investment in Dada-JD Daojia, a crowd-sourced delivery platform in China
  • Launched first Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store, the first Walmart eCommerce store in Japan
  • Established joint venture with Rakuten for grocery delivery in Tokyo
  • Walmart China established strategic partnership with Tencent, including use of WeChat Pay and Scan & Go
  • Launched new depots in China for accelerated eCommerce fulfilment and delivery

China: significant growth opportunities with challenges ahead

In China, comp sales decreased by 0.2% in the quarter as the calendar shift of the Mid-Autumn Festival and a slower economic environment affected sales growth. Without the calendar shift, comp sales would have been positive.

Walmart continues to see significant growth opportunities and has identified provinces that are a priority. Walmart China are improving the value proposition through better quality of fresh items, as well as new store designs and omnichannel initiatives.

Amid uncertainties with trade and other macro factors that can make for a more challenging environment, Walmart is confident in this important market.

India: excited and remain optimistic about the market

Factors affecting Walmart’s fourth quarter international operating income (down by -2.8% in constant currency) included the dilution from Flipkart. The company remains optimistic about the ecommerce opportunity in India, given the size of the market, the growing middle class, the low penetration of ecommerce in the retail channel and the fast pace it is growing. Walmart stated that Flipkart’s results were in line with expectation.

Future outlook

Overall, the company is pleased with the progress being made in its international markets and has plans to accelerate its omnichannel capabilities in these markets through partnerships and acquisitions.

Walmart see the future as a frictionless shopping experience across physical stores and online. As customers raise their expectations, competition persists and the omnichannel continues to evolve, the retailer will increasingly embrace new technologies to solve problems for customers in a seamless way. As emerging technologies come together, the pace of change in the next five years will accelerate versus the previous five years in food and grocery retail industry.


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Lionel Desclée has been appointed as the new CEO at Seiyu, one of the largest supermarket chains in Japan.

New Seiyu CEO from 15th March

From 15th March, Lionel Desclée will takes over from Mitch Slape (interim CEO) as the new CEO of Seiyu. Desclée left management of Tom & Co earlier this year, but he remains a shareholder and member of the board. Walmart invested in Seiyu back in 2002, before taking over in 2005. Last year, there were rumours that Walmart was planning to sell Seiyu, but the retailer later confirmed that it did not enter any discussions with buyers.

Large formats face tough competition

There are more than 300 Seiyu supermarkets in Japan, twice as many stores as Seven & i's Ito-Yokado. However, large format operators are facing increasing pressures, both in profitability and competition from online retailers and shoppers' increasing preference to shop at local convenience outlets and drugstores. In response, Walmart partnered Rakuten to launch a new online grocery service last year. The retailer is also shifting away from the large format store concept to more of a 'discount' supermarket, offering food and consumables. 

The high end membership-only retail club chain is to open 40 more stores in mainland China by end of 2019.

High confidence in the market

Since the first Sam’s Club opened in Shenzhen in 1996, the company now has 19 stores covering different geographic regions of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Fuzhou, Dalian, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuhan, Changzhou, Zhuhai, Tianjin, Xiamen, Nanjing and Changsha.

The company plans to open new stores to complement current stores. Currently there is only one Sam’s Club in Shanghai, which was opened eight years ago in Pudong. A second one will shortly be launched in Shanghai’s Qinpu area. Meanwhile, the retailer is also negotiating for five more locations in Shanghai.

Continuous investment is the best way to prove our confidence in the Chinese market", president of Sam's Club China, Andrew Miles, commented.

Sam's Club China
Source: IGD Research

Going from strength to strength

Sam’s Club has a strong performance in China. Its revenue is up by +8%YoY in 2018.

It has 2 million members in mainland China. It opened online store with direct delivery service in 2010. Same-day-delivery service for chilled and frozen food was launched in 2012 in main cities. In 2014, Sam’s Club App was launched after forming a strategic partnership with Tencent, opening the gateway of reaching WeChat’s one billion monthly active users. Recently, it started testing one-hour delivery service in Shenzhen.

Because of these progressive initiatives on service and user experience, Sam’s Club saw a 300% online growth since 2016. It is estimated that online sales will account for 13 – 15% of total revenue by end of this year when the 40 more stores are opened.

Membership of Sam’s Club China costs US$36 per annum, raised from US$23 in 2016. Premium memberships available at US$100 per year. An average Sam’s Club provides at least 1,500 parking spaces for its members, with a shopping area of 20,000 square meters.


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