Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Wal-Mart to Shake Up Online Team, Cut Prices in Amazon Fight

  • Retailer looks to boost its selection after buying Jet.com
  • Jet employees will take on greater role in Wal-Mart operation

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is overhauling its e-commerce team and elevating executives from its recently acquired Jet.com business, aiming to better challenge Amazon.com Inc. with more selection and lower prices.

The changes are meant to make Wal-Mart more “customer-centric,” Jet founder Marc Lore, who is now CEO of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operation, said in a memo Friday that was obtained by Bloomberg. Wal-Mart bought Jet in September for about $3.3 billion, turning to the startup to bolster an online operation that has lagged behind Amazon.

Marc Lore

Photographer: Emile Wamsteker/Bloomberg

“We’ve talked a lot about becoming a more customer-centric organization,” Lore said. “Our strategy is about offering more choice, competitive prices -- particularly on food and consumables -- and operating on the strength of the world’s most efficient e-commerce supply chain.”

The company is streamlining its web team so that it can serve customers whether they shop online, via smartphones or in stores, according to the memo. Key promotions include naming Scott Hilton to the role of chief revenue officer, charged with aligning the company’s various online retail, marketplaces and digital stores. Jeremy King, meanwhile, has been promoted to U.S. chief technology officer, bringing together Wal-Mart’s retail and e-commerce technology teams.

A new incubation and strategic partnerships division will be led by Seth Beal, who will focus on identifying areas that have the most growth potential.

Wal-Mart is under increasing pressure as Amazon pushes deeper into the grocery business. Big-box retailers have traditionally used food to draw shoppers into stores, with hopes that they buy electronics, clothing and other goods with higher-profit margins.

But now Amazon may pick off more of those customers. The online giant is even targeting food-stamp recipients under a pilot program to begin this summer. Wal-Mart is responding to the threat with its Jet.com Fresh service, offering delivery of fresh food without a membership fee.

The memo shows that Wal-Mart is looking to match Amazon’s reputation for being customer-focused. The company will create a new team to handle customer issues, returns and fraud prevention -- a more critical concern as Wal-Mart relies more on third-party merchants selling on its marketplace.

“We’re on a mission to reshape e-commerce and create a best-in-class shopping experience that empowers customers to save money in completely new ways,” Lore said in the memo.

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