Kumar, who brings with him more than 25 years of experience working at the intersection of retail and technology, will head Walmart’s technical strategy while leading the company’s ongoing digital transformation efforts.
“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers,” Kumar said in a statement. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth e-commerce business and more than two million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”
It’s unclear whether Kumar was looking to make the change from Google, or if Walmart courted him. A representative from Walmart said the hiring process took months and included a nationwide search for the best talent.
Either way, the tech veteran’s résumé includes stints at Microsoft, IBM and rival Amazon. In his new gig, which starts July 8 in the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif. office, Kumar will report directly to Doug McMillon, Walmart’s president and chief executive officer.
McMillon said Kumar’s experience in supply chain advertising, cloud storage and machine-learning will enhance Walmart’s online business.
“He is not only a strong technologist, but a strong businessperson,” McMillion said. “And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”
Kumar follows Jeremy King, who left Walmart in March for Pinterest. But Kumar is not replacing King, who focused exclusively on Walmart’s U.S. business. Instead, Kumar is taking on an expanded role. Under his leadership, all of the company’s technology organizations for Walmart U.S., Sam’s Club, Walmart International and global business services will report to him.
The addition of Kumar comes as the company continues to pour money into its digital shopping experience in an attempt to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon. That includes poaching Silicon Valley’s finest tech experts for the company’s U.S. business, also known as Walmart Labs, which opened in 2011, buying up Jet.com in addition to other smaller companies, adding free, next-day delivery to Walmart.com’s list of services and expanding the online grocery experience.
“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible,” McMillon said. “We want to take full advantage of those opportunities.
“We have started a significant digital transformation in our business, but we have a long way to go,” the ceo added. “We want to pick up the pace and increase the magnitude of change.”
So far, the efforts have been paying off. E-commerce sales surged 37 percent last quarter. Year-to-date company shares are up roughly 24 percent.