Walmart changes name, dropping ‘stores’ and hyphen, as it underscores online image

The company, which is also dropping the hyphen from its legal name, is underscoring its role as an e-retailer as well as well as a physical chain.

The company, which became the largest retailer in the world with a huge chain of stores, is changing its name to reflect its increasing emphasis on e-commerce.

As of Feb. 1, it will no longer be “Wal-Mart Stores” and will get rid of the hyphen and drop “stores” from its legal name.

“While our legal name is used in a limited number of places, we felt it was best to have a name that was consistent with the idea that you can shop us however you like as a customer,” Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “As time goes on, customers will increasingly just think of and see one Walmart.”

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Walmart’s tweak upends a 47-year-old tradition. The company, which was known as Wal-Mart, Inc, when it incorporated in October 1969, added the word “stores” three months later.

The change won’t boost Walmart’s bottom line, but it’s more than just cosmetic, some analysts say. 

“It signals that the way in which Walmart sees itself has shifted, and it wants to ensure that view is communicated to others,” says Neil Saunders, managing director of retail consultancy Global Data.

It also could help keep those working for Walmart focused on attracting shoppers as eager to tap their smartphones as they are to visit a store.

“It might focus minds internally and help aid understanding of what Walmart is trying to do as it moves into the future,” Saunders says. “That said, it’s a small part of a much bigger picture.”

Though Amazon is the most dominant player in the online shopping space, Walmart has become a fierce competitor, steadily increasing its offerings and online partners.

In June, it bought premium menswear seller Bonobos for $310 million, the latest in a shopping spree that has brought online marketplace Jet, footwear site Shoe Buy, outdoor gear seller Moosejaw and women’s clothing site Mod Cloth into the Walmart.com fold.

As shoppers increasingly choose to buy and browse with a tap or a click, Walmart.com has seen traffic soar. The company’s online U.S. sales rose 50% in the last quarter. 

Walmart’s website has tripled to more than 70 million the number of products it offers for sale. And as the company, known for its low prices, attempts to woo a more affluent, fashion-conscious shopper, it is partnering with upscale retailer Lord & Taylor to feature a branded shop on Walmart.com starting in the spring.  

Walmart is abolishing those dreaded return lines by making consumers a 30-second return promise.
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Despite the increased focus on online sales, the retailer is also improving the appearance, product quality and perks available at its roughly 4,700 U.S. stores. Walmart offers discounts to shoppers who pick up purchases they’ve made through its website and will roll out the option to pick up  online grocery orders to an additional 1,000 locations next year.