Wal-Mart Taps Neil Ashe to Lead E-Commerce

Former CBS Interactive president plots digital future for retail giant.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is known for thinking big. It caters to 200 million shoppers weekly through more than 10,000 stores globally. Now the mass merchant wants to conquer the multiplatform game and hopes to have found the leader who will make the charge.

This story first appeared in the January 18, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Former CBS Interactive president Neil Ashe, 44, took the reins as president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce business Monday. He succeeded Eduardo Castro-Wright, who said in September that he would retire.

At his last job, Ashe led CBS.com, CNET.com, CBSNews.com and CBSSports.com and worked to find new ways to distribute the media giant’s programming.

Mike Duke, president and ceo of Wal-Mart, not only named Ashe to the new position, but threw down the multichannel gauntlet.

“E-commerce is a great opportunity for us, and we have a long-term vision to win,” Duke said. “We are on track to create the next generation of e-commerce, combining the latest in online innovations with physical stores to give our customers a unique and seamless shopping experience.”

Duke noted the scope of the company, its willingness to make “significant investments” in technology and its established online outposts in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and Brazil.

“It is clear that Wal-Mart is the best-positioned retailer to deliver this multichannel experience to consumers, many of whom are already connected to the world through smartphones and social media,” Duke said.

“Wal-Mart is a special company,” Ashe added. “Growing up in East Tennessee, I have seen firsthand the difference it can make in the lives of its customers. E-commerce gives us a huge opportunity to expand and bring savings to many more people around the world. We have great things ahead of us.”