Marc Lore says Walmart can’t connect to customers like Allbirds and Warby Parker do
Marc Lore’s arrival in 2016 as chief of Walmart’s e-commerce business was “game-changing” for the retailer in many ways, according to Doug McMillion, the retailer’s CEO. It did not, however, suddenly make Walmart cool in the same way as such digital natives as Allbirds or Warby Parker.
Mr. Lore, who left Walmart earlier this year, was tasked with leading a digital transformation at the company and is generally viewed as having succeeded. The retailer, which has seen its online sales boom since the pandemic hit, achieved a 37 percent gain in 2019 before the term COVID-19 became commonly known in the U.S.
Walmart completely redesigned its website and mobile app during Mr. Lore’s tenure and transformed last mile fulfillment with a greater emphasis on having stores support same-day delivery and pickup services. He saw a massive increase in the number of SKUs sold via walmart.com directly by the retailer and the growing numbers of third parties on its marketplace.
He also led acquisitions of several digital native brands and trendy retailers — Bonobos, Eloquii, Modcloth, Moosejaw — that didn’t always work out from a sales perspective but helped bring new thinking to Walmart.
Mr. Lore didn’t speak specifically to his experience at Walmart in an interview yesterday on CNBC’s “TechCheck” program, but he may have provided some insights into why he pushed for those deals during his tenure.
“What really makes those brands special like Warby Parker is that connection to the customer, the passion that people feel. They’re mission oriented. They have a mission giveback component, things that really resonate with Millennial [and] Gen Z type customers, and you just can’t create that from scratch, from a mass merchant. It’s not authentic.”
Mr. Lore said that he does believe that e-commerce is at an “inflection point” at this time and that advancements in front end conversational and social commerce technologies will have profound effects on shopping behavior.
In the end, however, Mr. Lore said retail is “won or lost on logistics,” later adding, “getting customers on the front end to be able to shop is great and social commerce media players have that with a huge base of customers, but they don’t have the backend logistics, and that’s where the complications lie.”
- Entrepreneur Marc Lore on the future of e-commerce – CNBC
- What is Marc Lore’s legacy at Walmart? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What does it take for any brand or retailer to be viewed as authentic by consumers? Are there ways for big box retailers through merchandise, shopping experiences, new technologies, et al, to connect to customers in similar ways as consumer-direct brands such as Allbirds or Warby Parker?