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July 12, 2019 12:15 PM, EDT

Walmart Hunts for New Online Revenue Chief as Losses Mount

Walmart Timothy Fadek/Bloomberg News

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Walmart Inc. has a hole to fill at its online unit, and whoever assumes the role faces a big challenge ahead.

The company is searching for a new chief revenue officer for its U.S. e-commerce business, who would work under online leader Marc Lore to help map out its battle plan against Amazon.com, Target Corp. and other rivals. The yet-to-be-named executive also will work to stem the online businesses’ mounting losses in an increasingly competitive digital arena.

The vacancy was created when Scott Hilton, a senior vice president and Lore’s longtime lieutenant, left the company in May, according to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg. Hilton, whose departure hadn’t been previously reported, didn’t reply to an e-mail request for comment.

“Scott created a retail organization that has brought on some incredible leaders, new brands, significantly expanded our assortment and designed and built the tools that have set us on a course to enable Walmart to efficiently scale and compete in the ever-evolving retail arena,” Lore said in the memo announcing Hilton’s departure.

Walmart

Marc Lore (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News)

Walmart’s U.S. online business has grown, becoming a viable second fiddle to Amazon after the division’s revenue expanded 40% last year. But the business continues to be in the red, with losses expected this year of about $1.7 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year, according to Morgan Stanley estimates.

A portion of the retailer’s web traffic also has declined, according to data tracker SimilarWeb, falling by about a third between June 2017 and June 2019. SimilarWeb measures so-called nonbounced traffic, or customer visits that go beyond the landing page.

A big reason for the falloff is that Walmart’s customers are increasingly using its shopping apps, particularly for grocery orders, rather than its website. And even as Walmart.com’s traffic has declined, sales are up as customers buy more items on each visit and purchase higher-priced goods, the Lord & Taylor apparel it started offering last year.

Walmart

A Walmart.com spokesman said the SimilarWeb data was “completely incorrect,” adding that overall traffic to Walmart.com “has increased significantly during that time period.”

To help streamline things, Walmart brought Jet fully under its umbrella last month. It like has also encouraged consumers to pick up their online orders at the store, saving Walmart money on home-delivery costs. More recently, it has rolled out a next-day delivery service that’s now in 28 states, according to data tracker Marketplace Pulse, which Lore claims is less expensive to operate as orders typically come in one box from a nearby warehouse.

Hilton’s departure follows that of Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King, who left in March for Pinterest Inc. and has been replaced by tech-industry veteran Suresh Kumar, who started work this week. Other dot-com executives have moved on in recent weeks including Darren MacDonald, a vice president and general manager of entertainment products, who became chief digital and innovation officer at Petco in June.

The management reshuffles come as the company looks to counter next week’s Prime Day, a manufactured web-sales holiday created by Amazon that has become part of every retailer’s calendar.