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Walmart exec encourages the industry to seek the bigger picture


Walmart’s Shawn Townzen told a group of sales and marketing executives that his company’s buying teams are focusing on the ‘bigger picture” as the chain seeks to maintain momentum in an increasingly-complex retail arena.

Speaking in Bentonville, Ark. at a Mack Elevation thought leadership conference, Townzen, who is a VP and DMM, personal care, said that industry executives must align with Walmart’s philosophies and be ready to change on the go as the chain’s blueprint evolves.

“Walmart buying teams are focusing on ‘bigger picture’ thinking, driving more from the core assortment, while reducing out of stocks on high performing items,” he said. “Walmart wants to be the most trusted retailer in the industry.

“Walmart’s business plan focuses on running great stores - delivering consumer value - being great merchants and providing convenience to all shoppers,” Townzen noted. He also discussed, in detail, that Walmart’s merchandising strategic priorities include, “driving sales with an EDLP value proposition, resetting the cost structure and accelerating the multi-channel experience.

“The line review is the epicenter of the assortment decision-making process. Suppliers must show up with ammunition to win the moment. The best manufacturers are introducing true innovation – not product renovation. It’s important to know the difference,” added Townzen.

This was Mack Elevation’s fourth conference of the year at Walmart and Mack stressed that it gave industry officials an opportunity to think outside the box.

“We all love predictability and feel stress during moments of personal or professional disruption.   There are competitive threats, disruptive challenger’s and business risks everywhere,” said Mack. “Your advantage is not forever; it must be earned every day. Your leadership style must be open, enthusiastic and contagious. If you want to see a company change, first personally change.  How are you showing up?”  

Mack shared the research of Daniel Goldman, reminding forum participants that “moods travel from the leader, through the organization to the bottom line financial results. Optimistic cultures enhance creativity, efficiency and encourage collaboration. These cultures are both aspirational and safe; allowing for truth-telling. We must learn to embrace the tension of creating a blend of candor & optimism.”

Next year will be the 10th year of the Elevation Forum group. To learn more about the Elevation Forum and other events visit

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