Emphasizing the company's plans to grow its digital sales, Ashe spoke at Barclays' Retail and Consumer Discretionary Conference in New York City. Wal-Mart is scheduled to announce its fiscal first-quarter earnings on May 16. Shares gained 1.4% to close at $46.40 to extend their advance this year to 33%. "Our opportunity is not to become a multi-channel commerce, but rather to be that company that satisfies the customer when, where and how she wants to be served," Ashe said. "The path we were on wasn't going to get us there." Ashe was hired in January 2012 by the Bentonville, Ark.-based company to run the giant retailer's online strategy, which includes both the U.S. and international operations. Ashe was previously president of CBS ( CBS) Interactive. He was CEO of CNET Networks and led the sale of the company when it was acquired by CBS in 2008. Walmart has forecast $9 billion in global e-commerce sales for its current 2014 fiscal year. (Previously, the company didn't break out online sales.) The company's overall revenue for its fiscal 2013 year, which ended in January was just under $470 billion.
The global retailer trails online giant Amazon. Walmart is allocating significant resources and investment to its global technology platform, which includes online fulfillment centers as well as the ability to scale the services in all of its markets. "The business model for e-commerce -- the financial model will be faster growth, slightly lower margins and obviously lower investment, but that doesn't mean no investment," Ashe said.
"We're seeing significant growth in customers that don't shop currently at our stores," Ashe said. Another service that Walmart is experimenting with is the ship-to-store phenomenon at select stores, in which customers can place an order online, but make the actual purchase in-store. Ashe said this method works particularly well for the customer who prefers to pay in cash and avoid shipping charges. And of course, it gets the customer into the store. Other retailers are also experimenting with merging online with bricks-and-mortar stores, Gap ( GPS) announced last month at its annual investor day that it was expanding its offerings to include "ship-from-store, find-in-store and reserve-in-store." Walmart changed its store sales policies to allow for revenue credit of e-commerce sales in a store's geographic trading area, which has already had a sizable impact, Ashe said. -- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York. Follow @LKulikowski To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com. >To submit a news tip, email: email@example.com.
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