Walmart is changing its name — its legal name, that is. According to news from The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday (Dec. 6), the big box retailer is making the switch from “Wal-Mart Stores Inc.” to simply “Walmart Inc.”
The update to the company’s legal entity takes effect Feb. 1, 2018 and reflects Walmart’s new focus on eCommerce and competing with Amazon, among other goals.
“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,” said Doug McMillon, Walmart’s chief executive officer.
The first Walmart location opened in Rogers, Arkansas, in 1962. It was the creation of Sam Walton, who had previously opened several other stores like the Walton’s 5 & 10. Bob Bogle, one of the first location’s first store managers, gave it the iconic Wal-Mart name.
Walmart incorporated as Wal-Mart Inc. in 1969, then changed its name to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 1970 after it became a public company. The change to Walmart Inc. is the company’s first in nearly four decades.
“[The name change] is just a symbol of how customers are shopping us today and how they’ll increasingly shop us in the future,” McMillon said. “Whether it’s in our stores, on our sites, with our apps, by using their voice or whatever comes next.”
Other big-name companies have changed their legal names more recently, typically as a strategic element to appeal to a new customer base or garner investor support for a new company direction. Apple Computer Inc. shortened to Apple Inc. following the company’s successful foray into smart devices, and Google Inc. joined the umbrella under Alphabet Inc. when it decided to tackle business opportunities outside internet searches, for example.
Similarly, Walgreens announced Monday (Dec. 4) that it was changing its tagline from “At the Corner of Happy & Healthy” to “Walgreens. Trusted since 1901.” to solidify itself as the most trusted drugstore brand — particularly amid Amazon’s growing presence in the space and rival CVS’ reported goals of acquiring Aetna.
While its physical stores still account for more than 95 percent of Walmart’s total revenue, the legal name change comes as the company shifts its focus from brick-and-mortar offerings to a digital marketplace.
It purchased Jet.com last year as a major step toward expanding its online retail offerings and achieving those goals.