NEW YORK: Walmart, the US retailer, has been named the world's most valuable retail brand, according to a new report which also highlights retail's increasing focus on the use of digital.

The Best Retail Brands report from branding consultancy Interbrand, ranked the top retail brands by value in four regions, including the leading 50 in North America and in Europe, the top 30 in Asia-Pacific and the top 20 in Latin America.

With a value of $131.9 billion, Walmart led the North American region and was far ahead of those topping the rankings in the other three regions: in Europe H&M held the number one spot with a value of $18.2 billion, while in Asia Pacific it was Woolworths ($4.9 billion) and in Latin America Natura ($3.2 billion).

The report observed that the world's most valuable retail brands were "re-imagining the customer journey through a digital lens", whether that was offering mobile shopping or virtual fitting rooms.

"Adapting retail formats to accommodate the shift in consumer preferences for e-commerce is proving to be the key to success for many retailers worldwide," said Jez Frampton, Interbrand's Global Chief Executive Officer.

"In today's rapidly evolving global marketplace, retail brands must be more agile, flexible and responsive than ever before," he added. "The winning retail brands will not only survive the continuous shift to digital retail, they will become more extraordinary because of it."

Interbrand further broke down the retail market into seven major categories. In apparel, led by H&M, Coach and Zara, it noted that traditional stores continued to expand physically while online-only players were encroaching into bricks-and-mortar territory with pop-up shops and kiosks.

Most consumer electronics retailers had faced a drop in brand value thanks to fierce price competition from online rivals, particularly Amazon, and the leaders were now focused on omnichannel strategies. Department stores were struggling with an outdated format although here too the omnichannel route was seen as one way forward.

Drug stores were benefiting from an ageing population in many countries and the concomitant need for affordable and accessible health care. The leading two retailers in this category, CVS and Walgreens, were among those most effectively using mobile applications.

Grocery retailers were tackling several trends, including mobile technology, home delivery, consumer income disparity and the strategic necessity of e-commerce. Top grocery brand Carrefour, for example, was developing a multi-format, multi-local model.

Service and instruction emerged as priorities for home improvement stores, while mass merchandise brands such as Walmart faced the twin challenges of competing with online players like Amazon while at the same time opening smaller outlets to take on increasingly popular discount stores.

Data sourced from Interbrand; additional content by Warc staff