Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Walmart’s CEO McMillon Discusses Their 3D Printing Ambitions and Possible Acquisition Plan

ST Medical Devices

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You don’t get to be the largest retail chain in the world, employing more people than any other corporation on the planet, without innovation, and a key business sense. Walmart, currently valued at over $240 billion, is a wal-1name we all know, recognize, and most likely shop at. Although they own a commanding lead in the retail world, they need to stay on top of their game in order to remain the leader. Amazon.com is likely their most feared competition, with the largest online marketplace on the planet. Clearly Jeff Bezos’ company is keeping the executives at Walmart on their toes.

So what is Walmart’s plan of action, in order to remain the leader within the retail space? Their Chief Executive Officer, Doug McMillon, who took the job only a few months ago, was on hand at the Code Conference yesterday. McMillon made his way to the stage, and when questioned about what he finds most interesting right now, his immediate response was, “3D Printing is interesting to me. We have had some tests in this country and a couple of others, just bringing 3D printers into the store to show them to customers and create a mini-me, a statue of you, and we can’t keep them in stock.”

To better compete with Amazon, his company has already begun acquiring other firms with a web presence, and will continue on their acquisition spree.

“It’s clear we need to change, and we need to change fast,” said Mr. McMillon.“We’ve been more acquisitive lately, especially for talent. Our pace of acquisitions, I think, is going to accelerate.”

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon

Will one of these acquisitions perhaps be for a 3D printing company? McMillion didn’t shoot down that idea, stating that “it might make sense.”

He then doved further into the idea of 3D printing, and how it could relate to Walmart’s business. He believes that relatively soon, 3D printers will be printing new products for customers at Walmart retail stores around the world. He also thinks that such technology will eventually play a  crucial role in speeding up shipments, by printing out products at the company’s distribution centers.

Clearly as 3D printing technology continues its rapid rate of acceleration, both from an adoption, and technological standpoint, retailers are increasingly going to be in the cross hairs, as there will be a future in which a majority of products can simply be downloaded and printed out at home. How the mega-corporations will deal with such a threat will certainly be a show to watch.

What’s your opinion? Do you think Walmart should consider acquiring a 3D printing company, and what steps could they take to eliminate the threat that lies ahead from this up and coming technology? Let us know at the 3DPB.com forum thread about Walmart’s 3D Printing ambitions. Check out the brief clip below from yesterday’s interview McMillon gave at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California:

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