Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore to retire

Jan. 15, 2021 RETAIL DIVE Dive Brief:

  • Marc Lore, the CEO of Walmart's e-commerce business, is set to retire from the company at the end of January, according to a securities filing.

  • Lore will continue on in a "consulting role as a strategic advisor" to Walmart through September, Walmart said.

  • Last year, the retail giant merged teams in its Walmart U.S. and eCommerce units in an effort to streamline its omnichannel operations. Following Lore's retirement, all aspects of Walmart's domestic e-commerce business will report to Walmart U.S. CEO John Furner, according to the company.

Dive Insight: Lore was Walmart's blockbuster acqui-hire, coming aboard in 2016 with Walmart's $3 billion acquisition of online retailer Jet.com, at the time the biggest e-commerce deal in history. Jet's team was eventually merged into Walmart's e-commerce unit and the startup Lore founded gradually lost resources and attention from its new parent, ending with the wind down of Jet's website last year. Which is not to say Lore leaves no legacy behind him at Walmart. The company's e-commerce sales have grown by double digits in each of the past three reported fiscal years (by 37% in fiscal 2020, 40% in fiscal 2019 and 44% in fiscal 2018). Last year, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart's digital sales hit a blistering pace. Lore was Walmart's blockbuster acqui-hire, coming aboard in 2016 with the mass merchant's $3 billion acquisition of online retailer Jet.com.

Walmart's efforts online have not followed a straight line since Lore joined and amid the retailer's scramble to keep up with a fast-growing Amazon in the latter part of the 2010s. Under Lore, Walmart launched experiments that didn't always take, such as the high-end shop-by-text Jet Black service. Jet, which Lore co-founded, soon took a backseat to Walmart's namesake website, walmart.com, which became the retailer's main platform online. Many of the trendy digital brands acquired by Walmart and meant to be bolted on to Jet have since been sold off (including Modcloth and Bare Necessities) or have lost resources as Walmart has tried to bring costs in its e-commerce business under control. Walmart has gained share, won customers and expanded sales online, but it has come at high costs for a retailer with a reputation for being a disciplined and efficient operator. That reportedly led to tension in Walmart's ranks, between Lore's team and other executives.

As Lore leaves the company, Walmart has established itself as a much stronger omnichannel retailer than before he joined. Its stores, as pickup, return and delivery hubs, have proven one of its major competitive advantages in the war over digital retail. Its sales across the board have improved even while Amazon continues to command the lion's share of e-commerce. And Walmart keeps experimenting with ways to merge its digital and store operations, something unlikely to change with Lore gone.

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