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Weekly Roundup - Walmart´s Transformation Strategy, M&A Activity and AI Container Management

Yulia Fedorova

01 Mar 2024

Walmart released its Q4 earnings, reporting a 4.9% increase in sales and a 10.9% rise in operating profit in constant currency terms. The retail giant achieved over $100 billion in global e-commerce sales, marking a significant milestone. Walmart attributed its strong results to its supply chain transformation strategy, with a focus on omni-channel growth and e-commerce capabilities. The company emphasized the role of its ongoing investment in artificial intelligence, automation, and inventory management in driving efficiency and profitability. Walmart reported that investments in artificial intelligence have improved inventory management, and its AI-powered inventory management system strategically positions products based on customer demand. The company has retrofitted regional distribution centers with automated storage and retrieval systems and is implementing technology from Symbotic to improve productivity. Walmart is leveraging automation and AI in its market fulfillment centers within stores to fulfill pickup and delivery orders, aiming to reduce delivery costs and enhance accuracy.

The pandemic led to a surge in M&A activity within the transportation and logistics industry, driven by the strategic importance of supply chain execution. Logistics players and financial investors engaged in deals to expand capabilities and acquire high-performing assets, leading to a substantial increase in deal value. After the initial surge, M&A activity slowed in 2023, with a significant decline in both deal volume and value across various sectors and regions. Factors such as differing perspectives on pricing, tightening access to capital, and weakened demand for logistics services contributed to this slowdown. Despite the challenges in 2023, 2024 presents new opportunities for M&A activity, with leading investors ready to deploy substantial funds once market conditions stabilize. However, high valuations and the impact of major forces transforming the industry need to be considered in dealmaking.

Over 250 million containers of raw materials and finished goods travel by sea to ports worldwide, emphasizing the need for efficient container management in supply chain resilience. The World Bank reported that 80% of globally traded goods travel through major waterways, with nearly 2 billion metric tons of cargo transported to and from 850 ports annually. SAP, Fujitsu, and Envision are researching how AI-based algorithms can aid port terminals in managing thousands of containers for on-time distribution and delivery, making container management data-driven. AI is adept at analyzing vast amounts of data, enabling real-time orchestration of variables involved in container management, such as scheduling, equipment utilization, and cargo handling rules. AI has the potential to reduce human errors, increase revenue, prevent shipping container logjams, and optimize container stacking, loading, and unloading, leading to more cost-efficient port operations.

Read more on latest highlights
Dive deep into research

"Game analysis of enterprise data sharing from a supply chain perspective" by Zifu Fan, Zhiqqqiang Zhou, Wei Zhang (2024)

"Adaptive identification of supply chain disruptions through reinforcement learning" by Hamed Aboutorab, Omar K. Hussain, Morteza Saberi, Farookh Khadeer Hussain, Daniel Prior (2024)

"Supply chain resilience enhancement strategies in the context of supply disruptions, demand surges, and time sensitivity" by Xin Yan, Jian Li, Yanan Sun, Robert De Souza (2023)


When: 6. - 7. March 2024

Where: Berlin, Germany

What: TRANSFORM focuses entirely on the digital transformation of companies. It presents the latest technologies and solutions for the digitization of business processes and models and supports corporations, large companies as well as medium-sized and small companies in successfully meeting the challenges of the digital age. Over two days, managers and decision-makers, management, board members, CDOs, CIOs, CSOs, COOs and digital experts from across sectors will come together in Berlin.

Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summit

When: 25. April 2024

Where: London, UK

What: The Bloomberg Sustainable Business Summits bring together business leaders and investors globally to drive innovation and scale best practices in sustainable business and finance. As ESG reporting shifts from voluntary to mandatory, companies across Europe, the Middle East and Africa are grappling with political backlash, compliance fatigue and intense competition.

Industrial Decarbonisation Europe 2024

When: 22. - 23. May 2024

Where: Amsterdam, Netherlands

What: Industrial Decarbonisation Europe unites metals and mining, transportation and logistics, energy and fuels, and construction executives to overcome path dependencies and lead the transformational shift required to deliver a decarbonised industry. Over two days, we’ll explore roadmaps for fast-tracking the commercialisation of next-gen climate technology, we’ll drive standardisation and clarity across data and regulation, and, together, engender a collaborative era of industrial-scale net zero action.

Weekly Roundup