Marc Lore has designs on Wal-Mart’s future.
Since Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in September acquired his company, Jet.com, for $3.3 billion and he was hired as president and chief executive officer of the e-commerce business in the U.S., Lore has expanded the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s thinking and elevated its taste level and sense of aesthetics.
On Wednesday, Wal-Mart put a call out to the design community, touting @Walmart Labs’ new web site, designforlivingbetter.com.
“Design has a unique role to play at Wal-Mart, tying together our obsessive focus on the customer, our global scale and our efforts to have purposeful impact in the world,”Dan Makoski, vice president of design, said in a letter posted on Twitter. “Our team’s manifesto is ‘Design for Living Better,’ and today we’re launching this site to share what this means to us and invite other designers to join us in making it tangible in the world.”
Under Lore, Wal-Mart acquired fashion-focused web sites such as ModCloth, Shoebuy and Moosejaw, an area it previously steered clear of, opting instead for basics such as socks, T-shirts and jeans. Walmart.com added more than 1,000 sellers to its marketplace, including some that offer designs by Giorgio Armani Collezioni, Ralph Lauren, Alice & Olivia and Monique Lluillier, priced from $250 to more than $800.
Snigdha Malik and Janet Ausbury explained how the “revamped” design team functions, saying it’s changing its approach from traditional design thinking to the more inclusive codesigning, which involves “designers, product managers, developers, business stakeholders and customers to create solutions together.”
“We want to understand the needs of our customers and gain empathy for them,” they said. “Rather than design in isolation, we involve them in the ideation and design process.”
Due to the rush to deliver, the team didn’t regularly measure and improve its designs. It’s shifted its focus from outputs to outcomes and revisits projects, even after implementation.
Wal-Mart has gotten creative with store design now that consumers are buying more online. The increased attention to design can be seen at the retailer’s Next Gen stores where health and wellness departments have been consolidated to create a single destination; baby, toys, kids’ apparel and kids’ shoes are grouped together, and beauty salon and tech repair are adjacent to relevant products. Scan and go wands are stationed at the front of the store. Interactive projection technology on tables and walls can be found in baby and health and wellness, and interactive screens at the ends of aisles feature online-only items. To call over an associate, shoppers press a Wi-Fi-connected button and a staffer wearing GPS-enabled devices will show up.
Makoski called his tenure a “dizzying seven months” and said “since I joined Wal-Mart, we’ve worked at start-up speed to launch two-day free shipping, a discount for orders pickup by customers and rolled out an easy reorder experience. We’ve seen how our design work can move the business.”