Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) on Friday announced a management shuffle that integrates the running of its physical outlets and online operations, and extends broader authority to the former head of online retailer Jet.com, which Wal-Mart bought for $3.3 billion last year.
It was the second time Wal-Mart has shuffled its e-commerce decks after it acquired Jet.com in August and appointed Marc Lore to run its e-commerce business. In November, Wal-Mart announced a number of management changes and said Jet.com co-founder Nate Faust would lead fulfilment operations for both Jet.com and Wal-Mart.com.
Among the changes announced on Friday, Wal-Mart said Jeremy King, who was the chief technology officer of global e-commerce for Wal-Mart Stores, will oversee the technology teams for both its brick and mortar retail stores and its e-commerce business. Michael Bender, chief operating officer for e-commerce, will leave the company.
Tony Rogers, the chief marketing officer of Wal-Mart in the United States, will now also oversee online marketing efforts as the company shifts its focus to building its websites and e-commerce offerings.
Wal-Mart also appointed GE Power (GE.N) executive Clay Johnson as the new chief information officer. Johnson will replace Karenann Terrell, who will leave in February.
"These changes continue to show Lore is putting his stamp on the business," said Brian Yarbrough, senior research analyst with Edward Jones. "It remains to be seen how effective this will be."
The departures are a sign that Wal-Mart's struggling online business will get a drastic makeover under Lore, who started out in e-commerce with Diapers.com, which he eventually sold to Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) in 2010 for $550 million. Lore is likely to stay with Wal-Mart for at least five years, according to filings.
The changes announced on Friday are also part of a broader push by Wal-Mart Chief Executive Doug McMillon to narrow the gap with Amazon and to give it an even more dominant position in U.S. e-commerce. The retailer has been investing in e-commerce for the past 15 years, but it still lags far behind its Seattle-based rival.
The management changes come at a time when Wal-Mart is cutting thousands of back-office jobs in an effort to focus more on e-commerce, cut costs and have more employees on the sales floor
Analysts expect such executive shuffles to continue as Wal-Mart keeps integrating Jet.com into its business.
"Wal-Mart clearly isn't done reconfiguring its e-commerce operation and still has work to do," said analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research.
He said a lot of companies are combining oversight of their store and online operations with the goal of having a single retail organisation, as Apple Inc APPL.O did last year.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Chicago and Gayathree Ganesan in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)