The company is battling for sales in a rapidly shifting retail landscape. While most shopping still takes place in bricks-and-mortar stores, online purchases now account for about 10 percent of total retail spending, and Amazon continues to capture half of that online volume.
Walmart has continued to increase its online business; it said its e-commerce sales rose 24 percent in the fourth quarter compared with last year.
The retailer has been building out its e-commerce offerings by purchasing Jet.com and the online clothing retailers Bonobos and ModCloth. Last week, Walmart announced that it was offering members of its Sam’s Club unit free shipping on online orders for an annual fee of $100. As part of that effort, Walmart is converting a Sam’s Club store in Memphis into a e-commerce distribution center, and it revealed plans to open more around the country in the coming year.
It has also been expanding into new markets, forming a partnership to deliver groceries with Rakuten, the e-commerce giant in Japan, and pushing into new digital products, such as e-readers and audiobooks.
The shift toward e-commerce is proving costly. Even without the one-time restructuring charges, Walmart said its operating income would have fallen, by less than 1 percent.