Walmart on Wednesday announced that, as a corporate entity, effective Feb. 1, it will change its legal name from "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." to "Walmart Inc," according to a company press release.
The change reflects its "growing status as an omnichannel retailer," the company said in a blog post. "The name change chiefly demonstrates the company’s growing emphasis on serving customers seamlessly however they want to shop: in stores, online, on their mobile device, or through pickup and delivery."
Most people won’t notice much of a difference. Walmart’s legal name when it incorporated in 1969, was "Wal-Mart, Inc" and it was later changed to "Wal-Mart Stores, Inc." in 1970, the same year the company went public, and the same moniker it’s used for the past 47 years. The current "Walmart" logo has been used in its operations since 2008.
When it comes to retail, it turns out, there’s very much in a name. Walmart’s look — the signage on its stores and online — has already been sporting the name it chose on Wednesday to represent its entire business. "Wal-Mart Stores Inc." showed up most often in press coverage or documents concerning the company.
"Our customers know us as Walmart and today they shop with us not only in our stores but online and with our app as well," Doug McMillon, Walmart president and CEO, said in a statement. "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. Looking ahead, we’ll continue to invest in and strengthen our stores around the world and expand our eCommerce capabilities as we help save customers’ time and money. As time goes on, customers will increasingly just think of and see one Walmart."
But how much does that matter, considering that "Walmart" has been the label most people see, and that many people won’t register it or care much if they do? A lot, Jim Fosina, CEO of Fosina Marketing Group, told Retail Dive in an email. Fosina called it "a giant step in the right direction." As the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer — and arguably the most efficient distributor of consumer goods on the planet — it’s no small thing for the company to remove the word "stores" from its name.
"This is a HUGE mindset change for the company as it allows them to put the customer first and pivot and optimize their connection on a level basis," he said. "There is no longer any channel conflict — there is channel cooperation within the company as it is serving the customer first."