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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has named a new leader and structure for walmart.com after a year in which the retailer’s e-commerce sales grew 30 percent and a slew of new initiatives began taking hold.
This story first appeared in the June 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Fernando Madeira was named president and chief executive officer of walmart.com with responsibility for the U.S., Latin America and the further growth of walmart.com. Madeira, who has been based in São Paulo as president and ceo of Wal-Mart e-commerce in Latin America, will relocate to San Bruno, Calif., where the Web site is based. He will continue to report to Neil Ashe, president and ceo of global e-commerce.
Madeira succeeds Joel Anderson, who is leaving the company after three years to join Five Below as the teen discount retailer’s president.
Retail experts said Anderson’s departure is a sign that Wal-Mart e-commerce executives are in demand. The company hired 1,000 new technologists this year for @WalmartLabs, its digital headquarters in Silicon Valley. While Wal-Mart has had a presence in Silicon Valley for years, retailers such as Target Corp. located offices there recently.
Wal-Mart is making synergistic acquisitions and creating apps that leverage its digital infrastructure. The massive retailer is tying that into its physical scale.
“Wal-Mart is bold in making so many moves at once,” said Carol Spieckerman, president of Newmarketbuilders. For example, the retailer said its Savings Catcher, an online receipt price comparison tool, will be rolled out nationwide this summer as a mobile app. Wal-Mart is using its stores as fulfillment hubs and tethering SuperCenters to Wal-Mart Express and Neighborhood Stores, giving consumers more options than the smaller formats can physically offer. The @WalmartLabs office is also working on a predictive intelligence platform that allows data scientists to build and deploy predictive algorithms that can influence customer experience in real time.
The company, which touted global e-commerce at its annual meeting last week, has recorded five consecutive quarters of declines in revenue in its U.S. division. The retailer has also seen a decline in same-store sales for six straight quarters.
In an internal memo obtained by WWD, Ashe listed Madeira’s accomplishments. “We’ve seen Brazil grow twice as fast as the market, while increasing traffic fourfold,” he said. “Fernando and his team have dramatically increased assortment, adding nearly one million stockkeeping units, bringing new products from around the world.” Walmart.com Brazil is one of the largest e-commerce companies in the country. In other markets, Madeira leveraged sales and marketing efforts, driving triple-digit growth in Argentina, Chile and Mexico.
Another priority is to develop Pangaea, Wal-Mart’s global technology platform. Not only is the retailer sharing information between divisions, it’s sharing leaders from abroad, as the Madeira appointment underscores. Wal-Mart global e-commerce is also making many of its acquisitions overseas. “Wal-Mart’s acquisitiveness is not slowing down, in fact I’d expect it to speed up,” Spieckerman said.
“They’re starting to make some noise about [wearable technology],” Spieckerman said. “They will be ready to start showcasing it in their stores.”
A spokesman for @WalmartLabs said, “We’re always exploring new technology in our labs, but don’t have anything to share around wearables at this time.”