Over the past eight years, Walmart’s Daniel Eckert, ’05 (XP-74), has had a front-row seat to the profound transformations that have been gripping the retail industry.

“We have not ever seen the pace of change as fast as we are seeing it today,” said Eckert, senior vice president of Walmart services and digital acceleration. “It’s forcing new ways of thinking, and entire new ways for organizations to work within themselves and with customers.”

As the keynote speaker at Chicago Booth’s inaugural Marketing Summit, Eckert shared how he’s developing products at the nexus of digital and physical that help the world’s largest retailer reach customers where, when, and how they want to shop.

Sponsored by the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing, the summit gathered executive-level alumni in marketing with renowned faculty members to exchange ideas, dig into the data, and look ahead to what’s next. Read on for some of their top takeaways from the summit:

Time Is the New Currency

For most consumers, price is still king. But about two years ago, Walmart’s customer research suggested a growing number of shoppers would pay a little more to save time or reduce the stress of going to the store. It was “a wake-up call,” Eckert said. It spurred the company to rapidly expand a pilot program that paired online grocery ordering with five-minute, curbside pickup.

“What we found is that when you actually save customers time,” Eckert said, “they reward you with the marketer’s dream: loyalty.” Since then, curbside pickup has expanded to more than 1,500 locations and will end the year with more than 2,200.

To Work Faster, Work Together

To scale ambitious projects at the speed needed to thrive in an omnichannel environment, companies have to adopt a profoundly different way of working. As Eckert put it: “Just like Agile has been applied to software development, Agile now needs to be applied to a business environment.”

He shared the example of Walmart Pay, a mobile-payment app that’s been a smash-hit for the retailer—66 percent of first-time users shop with it again within 14 days, and the app boasts a 92 percent retention rate after a second purchase. With limited resources and an Agile mind-set, Eckert led a “team of teams” to take the app from an idea to a working, in-store prototype within six months. Six months after that, Walmart Pay rolled out to all 4,700-plus US stores.

“Omnichannel is a bold promise to the consumer that you’re going to speak with a single voice. That’s easy to promise and hard to deliver on.”

— Oleg Urminsky