Alibaba's long play to become an e-commerce player in the U.S. is well on its way, as reflected by its latest quarterly earnings. Despite a global pandemic and being caught amid political tensions, the Chinese retailer is quickly gaining market share among competitors like Amazon and Walmart.
During the pandemic, Walmart benefitted from being one of the only games in town. Now, as most non-essential retailers have been able to reopen the majority of their stores in the U.S. and delivery times have started to stabilize, the question now becomes how well Walmart is able to retain its customers throughout the rest of the year. During its second quarter earnings on Tuesday, Walmart reported that its e-commerce sales during the period grew 97% year-over-year. It will be tough to match that growth the rest of the year, but Walmart can maintain a strong growth rate if it encourages its e-commerce customers to cross-shop as much as possible.
While other retailers falter, Dollar General still flourishing. Despite relying on in-store sales, the dollar store continues to see big growth. Meanwhile, other dollar stores continue to face headwinds. While overall foot traffic was down, average purchases have increased, likely due to shoppers stocking up and making less store trips during the pandemic.
Blue Apron recorded its first profitable quarter since going public three years ago. However, the meal kit service's luck is likely to end here, as mounting struggle to retain customers and the costs of attracting new ones continue. For its third quarter outlook, the company plans to ramp up marketing dollars again, in hopes of attracting new customers, and that likely will come at the cost of current profits.
Amazon saw huge profits in its most recent earnings report. This comes even after the company say three months earlier it would likely spend all of its current profits on coronavirus-related costs. Even so, the company saw record sales and continues to skyrocket. But tensions with third-party sellers still remain a pressure point.
Kroger has been investing in its digital infrastructure since 2017. This all helped it grow profits during the first quarter of 2020. The grocer saw huge revenue growth too. While other retailers have seen big profit hits a result of putting their businesses online, Kroger was able to grow profit despite the digital shift.
Lululemon's sales dropped 17% this quarter compared to the year before. Still, it was able to focus on its digital programs after retail stores had to abruptly close. While the results weren't pristine, the athleisure brand did illustrate why investing in digital fulfillment and engagement helped offset some of the headwinds felt by the global pandemic.
Dick's Sporting Goods has benefitted some from its product being in high demand. But the company also benefitted from investments it has previously made in its e-commerce business. Case in point, the company said during its first quarter earnings that online sales were up 110% during the quarter, thanks in large part to the rollout of a curbside pickup service in response to store closures.
Williams-Sonoma recorded e-commerce comps exceeding 31%. While the numbers are big, they're not terribly surprising. The home goods company has invested in digital programs for years -- beginning as far back as 1998. Now, those bets are paying off. What's more, Williams-Sonoma invested more in new digital tools when the coronavirus first hit. Compared to other big retailers, these results show when digital investment really pays off.
Home Depot saw a huge revenue spike this past quarter -- as well as many more customers utilize its digital offerings. This is a long time company for the home improvement retailer. It has spent many years bolstering its digital infrastructure but hadn't yet seen the fruits of those labors. We now see why the investment paid off.
Walmart has proven to be one of the retail winners over the last couple of months, as both its stores and its website drew strong sales. During its first quarter earnings on Tuesday, Walmart reported that total revenue was $10.7 billion, up 8.6% year-over-year. The past couple of months have shown just how far Walmart has come in building an e-commerce behemoth.
Amazon's sales went up during the first quarter of this year, but so too did costs. This certainly has to do with the coronavirus -- as do the plans to re-invest all of its profits into the business. The company's latest earnings report shows that even the industry leaders have some cracks in the business.
On big-box retailer Lowe's fourth quarter earnings call today, CEO Marvin Ellison acknowledged that the company's website is "still under construction." That statement isn't often uttered by retail executives in 2020. But Lowe's is still in the process of upgrading a website that was built on a decade-old tech stack.
During its fourth quarter earnings report on Tuesday, Walmart once again reported strong growth in its online grocery business, which has become the crux of its e-commerce strategy in recent years. But the company was also hurt by weak sales in toys, apparel and gaming.
J.Crew just announced that it's received investor approval to part ways with Madewell. This is certainly a way for the retailer to pay down its massive debt load, but it won't solve the bigger problems facing the aging brand.
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