Top Takeaways from Unboxed 2021
Walmart Connect Canada recently hosted the Unboxed 2021 vendor summit at a virtual boutique hotel, sharing the latest insights into the Walmart customer and news on how Walmart Canada’s growth has fueled powerful digital media development.

With 1.7 billion online searches on each year and 44% of Canadian shoppers visiting Walmart stores on a weekly basis, Walmart Connect is evolving to become Canada’s #1 omnichannel retail media solution.
“We are as close as you can get in the customer journey to the point of purchase. We reach people who are in a shopping state of mind, who have intent to purchase. This is what helps us close the loop for advertisers.”
— Dana Toering, VP Walmart Connect Canada
Top Event Takeaways
The Customer is at the Heart of it All
Walmart Canada’s ardent focus on the customer empowers brands with opportunities to create meaningful connections
All Signs point to Omni
Omnichannel media planning is a rapidly growing and effective solution for brands who want to deliver holistic messaging across both in-store and online touchpoints to reach customers as they travel less linear shopping journeys.
Innovation Abounds
Innovative marketing around seasons and occasions, and through always on programming, creates engaging solutions for brands and shoppers throughout a wide range of channels and tactics.
The Customer is at the Heart of it All
Throughout the day, presenters made clear that the customer ultimately drives innovation for media and advertising solutions because the customer experience always takes the front seat at Walmart. Walmart Connect exists to offer advertisers the ad products, platforms, data, and creative teams to deliver impactful and timely messaging that surprises and delights customers.
“We’re recommitting to taking our partnership relationships to the next level. We want to help you thrive in a true partnership that has trust and the customer at the centre.”
— Haio Barbeito, President and CEO, Walmart Canada

Walmart Connect Canada works toward a mission of connecting partner brands with Walmart’s retail customers in mutually beneficial relationships. By substantially investing in ecommerce, Walmart has ensured customers are met where they are, strengthening connections.

Ecommerce has grown 124% in the last two years, with no signs of slowing down. Customers want to be able to shop as conveniently as possible. With digital solutions at their fingertips, people spend more time planning to shop, which makes the pre-purchase process as important as the purchase itself.

“When building our digital platforms, we want to remain focused on what really matters to customers: speed, assortment, and site experience.”
— Laurent Duray, SVP eCommerce, Walmart Canada

Reaching beyond the website, Walmart’s digital shoppers now make 36% of one-time orders and over 50% of scheduled orders through the app—and omnichannel customers spend 112% more than those who shop only in-store. Brands have an incredible opportunity to curate a more holistic shopping experience across digital and in-store media placements.

All Signs Point to Omni
Meeting customers where they are was highlighted as a critical trend in all areas of the business. Omnichannel is no longer something that shoppers are considering - it has become a part of life and essentially reflects how consumers shop. It’s how they research, plan, and compare. In fact, within the Walmart ecosphere, 48% of shoppers research online before shopping in store.

By leveraging the full channel mix throughout all phases of the customer journey, brands can deliver the right solution, during the right season, for the right occasion, to the right target audiences. To provide the convenience, meaningful connection, and immersive experience shoppers embrace, vendors can build category programs that are specific to the moment through integrated media plans.

“The Walmart Connect Suite of solutions can drive awareness, consideration, add-to-cart impacts, and support maximizing the value you derive from Walmart's retail position in the market.”
— Paul Nowosad, Director, Omnichannel Strategy and Business Development, Walmart Connect Canada
The Connect Suite of omnichannel ad solutions at Walmart, offers unparalleled reach
  • 44% of Canadian shoppers visit Walmart stores on a weekly basis
  • 400+ physical retail stores across the country
  • Almost 3 million users active on the app each month
  • 20 million unique site visits on a monthly basis
  • 1.7 billion online searches on annually
  • Annual household penetration of 79%
With 17 million active customer profiles and a robust range of ecommerce channels, Walmart Canada’s first-party insights enable Walmart Connect media partners to target the right customer at the right time. Walmart Connect Canada’s customer data not only spans a great breadth but is also uniquely actionable. Reaching beyond statistics, it tells the customer journey story that helps brand partners respond with a fitting narrative.
Innovation Abounds
If there was one takeaway that was hard to ignore, it was the sense that Walmart Connect is super focused on ways to innovate and evolve. This was punctuated by the Unboxed 2021 event itself which was housed in an interactive virtual boutique hotel, offering a completely unique guest experience.

Getting Creative in Anticipating Shifting Demand Timelines
Across Canada, both online and in-store, demand has increased for products across categories—and one particular behaviour pattern has shifted remarkably: timing. Customers now shop for events earlier than ever—and to meet that demand, retailers have had to innovate quickly to anticipate their needs. For Chief Merchandising Officer Kieran Shanahan, that means big bets on product orders, as well as collaboration with global shipping partners to meet growing demands within a strained supply system.

“As the saying goes, ‘calm seas don’t make great sailors’. Today, we’re finding solutions that we might not have if the pandemic hadn’t presented the challenges it did.”
— Kieran Shanahan, Chief Merchandising Officer, Walmart Canada

Customer behaviours still reflect the past and current influence of the pandemic. Yet, day-to-day life is normalizing. People are ready for happiness, connection, and celebration and look forward to celebrating big and small occasions with fanfare.

“Walmart continues to focus on the key customer moments that matter greatly.”
— Jill Hong, VP Customer Insights and Analytics, Walmart Canada

The Insights and Data Led Targeting Evolution
Data shows that customers shop on a mission for occasions, whether to decorate for an event, craft the perfect meal for a gathering, or refresh their look for a return to working in person. Brands can step up with relevant messaging that carries a focused narrative around the occasions that matter most to Canadians.

This means connecting to the right targets with a higher frequency on appropriate channels. The habitual behaviour customers show around occasions feeds a rich data pool spanning the entire customer experience, and Walmart Connect applies this data to enable purchase-based targeting that is driven by narrative, not just numbers.

“The best predictor of future purchases is past purchases, and you can activate these audience segments based on your marketing objectives right now.”
— Sach Malik, Sr. Director, Performance Marketing & Ad Products and Operations, Walmart Connect Canada
“We’re an incredibly insight driven team now and our future state is obsessed with identifying, activating and messaging.”
- Prabal Majumdar – Director, WMC Insights & Analytics
Changing together
Customer demands are constantly evolving, and right now, they want more than a static shopping experience. This brings opportunities for brands to innovate through powerful collaborative relationships that can elevate ecommerce and omnichannel platforms with personalized marketing that provides a holistic experience across all customer touchpoints.
“For our partners, we have three asks. Come to us with your big bets and business challenges. Work with us to define where your brand is most relevant. Bring us your innovations early. We can’t wait to collaborate with you.”
— Sherin Yassin, VP Marketing and Customer Experience, Walmart Canada

Many of the solutions announced at Unboxed 2021 came as a direct result of conversations between Walmart Connect Canada and brand partners, and the exciting upcoming changes hold the potential to transform the way customers and brands connect.

Unboxing Wellness with Arianna Huffington
Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, spoke with Kirsten Evans, EVP of Customer Office at Walmart Canada, in the MasterConnect “Unboxing Wellness” segment. She highlighted the importance of addressing the burnout epidemic head on and finding ways to facilitate wellbeing both on an individual and corporate level. Huffington also spoke about the opportunity brands have to tap into consumers’ health mindset by making it easier for them to source the products that support their health journeys.

Walmart Canada has partnered with Thrive Global to deploy Thrive across the organization. As part of the program, associates learn and adopt microsteps that help them build healthy habits and avoid burnout. Enabling this wellness program is part of our commitment to empower our workforce with the tools and practices they need to succeed.
“The pandemic has become a catalyst for fundamental changes in how we work that should have happened long before.”
— Ariana Huffington, Founder and CEO, Thrive Global