Legacy retailer Walmart provides a blueprint for DTC brands planning for the post-COVID-19 world 

WHAT HAPPENED: Walmart has adapted quickly during COVID-19 adding contactless payment, concierge services and partnerships that benefit both itself and smaller brands.

WHY IT MATTERS

Walmart has shown surprising agility during COVID-19 and smaller brands would do well to follow suit. Since mid-March, it’s launched a new contactless payment option, Walmart Pay, in its app; initiated a concierge service for seniors at Sam’s Club; and launched partnerships with Shopify and ThreadUP. The retail behemoth is clearly not afraid of experimentation, but that’s nothing new (see: Bonobos, Jet.com and ModCloth acquisitions). In stark contrast, however, are many digitally-native brands who are failing to innovate through this crisis. 

Walmart’s actions could be a blueprint for other brands as they reopen stores post-COVID-19. Despite arguments otherwise, assisted checkout is a low-value interaction—not to mention that it will pose a liability post-COVID-19. Adding a contactless payment option would free up sales associates to monitor store capacity and cleanliness. Partnerships is another area where newer brands should be running circles around legacy retailers like Walmart. Digitally-native brands should apply the mall adjacency principle to partnerships—be next to brands with like-minded customers who are not direct competitors. Taken together, these initiatives have the potential to solve for both pre-existing and current challenges.