New Walmart.com CEO Fernando Madeira Has Big E-Commerce Plans

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Walmart (WMT) faces big e-commerce and leadership changes with the resignation of Walmart.com's CEO Joel Anderson amidst an attempt to grow the Web site. With a track record of online sales growth, Fernando Madeira is now promoted as Walmart.com's new CEO. Madeira was formerly the president of Walmart's Latin American e-commerce division.

Walmart is placing e-commerce front and center, as Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, said at the company's annual shareholder meeting on June 6. "If we don't move fast -- and the world is, you know, moving very quickly -- I think it puts us at risk. So I am really interested in moving with speed but not in a reckless way."

Today, e-commerce revenue at Walmart.com currently accounts for less than 3% of Wal-Mart's total sales.

At Walmart.com, Madeira will lead domestic and Latin American teams. The e-commerce site recently hired 1,000 new employees in Silicon Valley, plus 600 new employees in Brazil.

Walmart.com is adding three new facilities in Texas, Indiana and Pennsylvania. Neil Ashe, Walmart's Head of Global e-commerce, stated at the annual shareholder meeting that the company is working hard to speed delivery as much as possible with the new centers. "That will give us one- or two-day access via ground to everyone in Texas and east of the Mississippi, so that's about 200 million or so Americans," said Ashe.

Acquisitions and e-commerce efforts have the potential to spur leapfrogging with supply chain in the U.S. To drive sales, the retailer is making efforts to improve its fundamentals with merchants, price leadership and item features.

Investors see Walmart as, above all, one of the most innovative companies in America. And retail's future is currently being put to the test in its Silicon Valley Walmart.com offices.

Neil Ashe explained at the meeting that each Friday the company has "demo days." Technology teams report every 20 days on what they've built. And the Web site is capitalizing on e-commerce ideas that work well in the retail space.

"I think it's early," said Ashe. "Those tests, for example, in San Jose.... It was the highest comp day that the store has ever had."

The retailer is also testing 3-D printing as a possible market opportunity. "It probably won't move the needle for us this year, maybe even next year," said Ashe at the investor meeting.

New plans to launch Savings Catcher, a receipt comparison tool, were also announced for this summer. Savings Catcher received nearly one million receipts processed since its pilot launch in seven markets this spring.

Big data and mobile have been leveraged to connect Walmart's e-commerce site and stores to better serve customers and drive future sales. E-commerce acquisition opportunities look promising. Doug McMillon stated at the investor meeting that it seems like most of those are going to be talent acquisitions and smaller in nature. Walmart is looking at the long term, and all the upcoming changes won't happen within one year.

Although Walmart may be the biggest and most successful bricks-and-mortar store, Amazon (AMZN) still ranks as the world's largest online retailer.

McMillon claims Walmart isn't worried about competition and is confident in its ability to generate strong return on investment. "I'm concerned about making sure that we're positioned for growth and executing... I think as long as we take care of that these returns are going to work themselves out," said McMillon.

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At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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