Think Walmart Can’t Beat Amazon? Think Again: E-Commerce Extends Streak of Big Sales Gains

Walmart‘s strategy of blending stores and e-commerce to push back at is working.

The world’s largest retailer (WMT) reported on Thursday that comparable sales at its namesake U.S. stores rose 3.4% in the third quarter, above Wall Street expectations for 2.9% according to Consensus Metrix, setting it up for a strong holiday season. That performance was boosted by a 43% jump in e-commerce sales, the result of its efforts such as dramatically increasing locations where customers can retrieve online grocery orders, the addition of brands like Lord & Taylor and ModCloth to its web site and a vast expansion of its online marketplace. All Walmart stores ship online orders and allow customers to retrieve online orders.

“Our company is moving faster and we’re accelerating innovation,” Walmart Inc. CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. “We’re creating a business model that functions as an ecosystem with the customer at the center.”

The years of mega-investments in e-commerce are paying off: digital consultancy eMarketer said in a report released Thursday that Walmart has now eclipsed Apple (AAPL) as the No. 3 U.S. e-commerce player, behind Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY).

It was the 16th quarter in row of growth in U.S. comparable sales at Walmart’s namesake stores, a metric that strips out revenue from newly closed or opened, and the 15th in a row of increased store visits by shoppers.

Elsewhere, results were also strong: comparable sales at its Sam’s Club division rose 5.7%, helped by the closing of weaker locations and strong digital growth. Sales at Walmart International rose 1.6% excluding the impact of currency fluctuations, helped by comparable sales increases in nine of its 10 foreign markets. Walmart reported adjusted earnings per share of $1.08, beating analysts’ forecasts of $1.01 per share and raised its U.S. sales growth expectation for the year.

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