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In-Store Shopping Surges: Walmart Connect Expands Advertising Initiatives

Retail giant beta tests new formats, in-store demos, and radio ads to enhance brand engagement and drive omnichannel success

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Walmart Connect, the U.S. advertising division of retail giant Walmart, is beta-testing new in-store advertising formats as consumers return to brick-and-mortar shopping in large numbers. The company aims to leverage its extensive store footprint of over 4,700 locations by offering marketers opportunities for in-store demos and advertising on the Walmart Radio Network. These initiatives are aimed at driving brand discovery, increasing conversion rates, and capitalizing on the growing demand for in-store engagement.

Walmart Connect's previous focus has primarily been on digital ad formats and channels, targeting consumers on and third-party apps. However, with the retail media landscape becoming increasingly crowded, Walmart recognizes the significance of in-store and out-of-home advertising as a means to differentiate itself and provide scale for budget-conscious brands.

With an estimated 90% of U.S. households shopping at Walmart annually, the company holds a competitive advantage as the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer. Walmart Connect already offers in-store advertising options such as ads on self-checkout kiosks and the TV Wall, but considers this channel as an "emerging opportunity."

The company began piloting in-store demos in April, initially in 25 stores, and is currently expanding the program to 120 stores on weekends. The goal is to reach 1,000 stores by the end of the year. Walmart Connect aims to bridge the gap between real-world activations and online engagement through tactics like QR codes, enabling consumers to access custom landing pages.

In addition, Walmart is exploring the monetization of its in-store radio network, which is present in all U.S. locations, Sam's Club, and distribution centers. The network, which has been in operation since the 1990s but has evolved over time, now allows advertisers to target specific stores or regions with audio messages. Walmart Radio provides a non-intrusive way to capture shoppers' attention as they browse the aisles.

The introduction of these in-store advertising initiatives builds on Walmart Connect's recent success. The division experienced nearly 40% year-over-year sales growth in the fiscal first quarter of 2024, surpassing its competitors. In 2022, Walmart's global ad sales reached $2.7 billion.

By expanding its advertising capabilities to encompass in-store and out-of-home formats, Walmart Connect aims to capitalize on the resurgence of physical retail while providing marketers with new avenues to engage consumers and achieve their omnichannel goals.

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