Wal-Mart CEO: Speed up pace of change

Posted: June 6, 2014 at 7:10 a.m.
Updated: June 6, 2014 at 2:31 p.m.

Charles Holley, chief financial officer of Wal-Mart Stores, speaks during the annual Wal-Mart shareholders meeting in Fayetteville on Friday, June 6, 2014.

FAYETTEVILLE — Wal-Mart's CEO Doug McMillon said the world's largest retailer's task is to more quickly bring e-commerce together with physical stores to better serve shoppers.

At Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s annual shareholders meeting Friday, McMillon talked about a service that Wal-Mart offers at its Asda.com website in the U.K., where customers can order groceries online and then pick them up from trucks at various pickup points. He also showed off miniature figures of executives to illustrate how some Wal-Mart stores have been using 3-D printers to create miniature figurines for customers in the U.K.

"Our purpose of saving people money will always be relevant, but we'll do it in new ways," said McMillon, a 23-year-old Wal-Mart veteran who took over as CEO in February. "We need to be at the forefront of innovation and technology."

McMillon's remarks come at a time when the retailer is seeking to address concerns over its declining sales and business practices at home and overseas. About 14,000 Wal-Mart workers around the world attended the meeting, which as usual had celebrity entertainment: Actor Harry Connick Jr. was master of ceremonies and Pharrell and Robin Thicke performed.

Despite the festivities, Wal-Mart is under scrutiny. Revenue at established Wal-Mart stores in the U.S. has declined for five consecutive quarters. The number of customers has also fallen six quarters in a row at the division, which accounts for 60 percent of the company's total sales.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.