Walmart Plans "Dramatic" E-Commerce Upgrade

NEW YORK-Having already invested in its own search engine, Walmart is looking to "dramatically" expand its e-commerce assortment and capabilities, according to Neil Ashe, executive vice president and president and CEO of Walmart global e-commerce.

Speaking earlier this week at the Barclay's Retail and Consumer Discretionary Conference here, Ashe said Walmart will plow more resources into its overall e-commerce effort, and declared that "e-commerce is the next growth engine for Walmart." He detailed several elements in Walmart's e-commerce strategy going forward: the building of a global technology platform that connects products with shoppers according to shoppers' needs; the in-sourcing of the technology around e-commerce; and the development of dedicated e-commerce fulfillment centers.

Creating its own search engine is crucial to Walmart's e-commerce, Ashe said. "The importance of owning a search engine for yourself is that it allows you to deliver a significantly wider assortment effective to a customer," he said.

Another element to the strategy is combining the online experience with the store experience, Ashe said. He noted that Walmart now allows shoppers to pay for online purchases with cash at its stores. This is a particular advantage for consumers who don't have bank accounts and who don't want to pay the online shipping costs, he said.

Also, Walmart has integrated mobile into the online strategy. "Through your mobile device, you can take all the benefits of e-commerce into the store with you," Ashe said. This allows shoppers to look through product reviews and comparisons from online while they are browsing through the stores, he said.

These efforts are a continuation of Walmart's historic efforts to gain market share at other retail segments, Ashe said, including discount stores, wholesale clubs, grocery and international. "We're doing it the same way we've done all of these other waves of retail," he said, "which is, we're building best-in-class capabilities, which allow us to do things for customers that no one else can do."

HFN Staff | News & Commentary

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