Amid change, expect Walmart to stay strong

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It’s a time of transition at Walmart. In recent weeks, a series of high-level executive changes has occurred that will influence the trajectory of the company as it continues to play a leading role in the evolution of omnichannel retailing.

Casey Carl, chief omni strategy and e-commerce officer, plans to leave at the end of February, according to an internal memo that came to light just before presstime. The executive — who earlier in his career spent 20 years at Target — is responsible for honing the customer experience for people who shop Walmart through its website or app. He also oversees the company’s U.S. marketplace and fulfillment services operations, as well as efforts to foster start-ups that are developing cutting-edge retail capabilities within Walmart’s Store No. 8 portfolio. Carl will be succeeded by Tom Ward, who is currently senior vice president of last-mile delivery, where, among other innovations, he is he credited with converting selected stores into distribution centers to help meet surging demand for online grocery orders.

Walmart has done a remarkable job in expanding the ways it goes to market in the six years since it agreed to acquire for $3.3 billion. E-commerce sales in the U.S. increased 8% during the third quarter of fiscal 2022 and 87% on a two-year stack basis. Those numbers are impressive, but more work needs to be done before Walmart’s online business rivals that of Amazon.

The pending departure of chief merchant Scott McCall and chief customer officer Janey Whiteside will further complicate matters. The former, a 30-year company veteran who will stay on for a time to help manage the supply chain, has been replaced by Charles Redfield, who previously ran the grocery business in this country. A successor to Whiteside, who joined Walmart in 2018 to spearhead the development of a customer-centric omnichannel offer, has yet to be named.

To have new people taking on such important jobs at the same time is a daunting prospect, but Walmart has, over the course of its 60-year history, demonstrated the ability to manage such transitions. Moreover, the company’s top leaders, president and chief executive officer Doug McMillon and Walmart U.S. president and CEO John Furner, know that if a company is to have long-term success, it must embrace change. As Furner said at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show earlier this month, a retailer can only count on the loyalty of consumers until something better comes along. Walmart’s top management, including its newest members, is determined to ensure that the company continues to earn customer allegiance.



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