Walmart Inc. appointed Scott Eckert as its senior vice president of next generation retail to run its technology incubator, Store No. 8.
Walmart created Store No. 8 to identify and capitalize on changes in the way people shop by using tools such as robotics, self-checkout, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The unit already touts several initiatives, such as Jetblack, a text message concierge shopping service for upscale New York City residents, and Spatial&, a virtual reality merchandising company.
Eckert is taking over the role from Lori Flees, who led Store No. 8 for the last two years. She also serves as senior vice president of health and wellness at Walmart-owned Sam’s Club and will continue in that role.
Eckert previously served as an executive in residence for venture capital firm Bain Capital Ventures. Additionally, he was president and CEO of robotics company Rethink Robotics for more than eight years.
The announcement was made in a memo sent to Walmart employees by Walmart’s head of U.S. ecommerce Marc Lore. “His start-up mentality and ability to lead in emerging categories will help fuel Store No. 8 as we continue to dream big, explore new technologies and develop next gen capabilities to serve customers,” Lore wrote.
Walmart is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000.
In other ecommerce news:
Delivery company UPS’s My Choice program—which allows its 58 million consumer members to receive estimated arrival and progress alerts, set vacation holds, give UPS drivers instructions or change delivery addresses—has added ShopRunner services to its suite. UPS My Choice members will receive a complimentary year of free two-day shipping and returns from ShopRunner’s 123 retailer customers, such as women’s apparel retailers Chico’s FAS Inc.’s (No. 123) and Ann Taylor. Members can sign up for ShopRunner without entering their credit card information and add it to their My Choice services.
“We’re thrilled to add yet another unique value to the UPS My Choice program,” said Kevin Warren, UPS’s chief marketing officer. “Retailers benefit by connecting to the UPS My Choice customer base, which is comprised of savvy and loyal shoppers.”
“As shoppers increasingly demand faster shipping and more control of their deliveries, we have welcomed this strategic alignment with UPS,” said Sam Yagan, CEO of ShopRunner. “It opens the door for closer collaboration and partnership in creating innovative products and services for both consumers and retailers.”
- Pet food and supplies retailer Petco Animal Supplies Inc. (No. 120) hired Darren MacDonald as the retailer’s chief digital and innovation officer, effective June 10. He will be overseeing Petco’s ecommerce business, including the Petco mobile app. MacDonald comes to Petco from Walmart, where he worked for more than two years as vice president and general manager of the retailer’s ecommerce entertainment business and oversaw its merchandising, supply chain, marketing and site experience. “Petco is committed to delivering an elevated omnichannel experience for pet parents,” said Petco CEO Ron Coughlin. “Darren’s impressive background in digital strategy and ecommerce growth will be an incredible asset to the Petco leadership team, as we continue to power innovative digital platforms to create an unparalleled experience for our customers.”
- Online crafts marketplace Etsy Inc. (No. 16 in the ranking of Internet Retailer Online Marketplaces) hired Ryan Scott as its chief marketing officer, effective June 24. This is a newly created position for Etsy in which Scott will be responsible for its digital marketing, advertising and general marketing operations. Previously, Scott was chief marketing officer for pizza-ordering platform Slice, as well as chief marketing officer for fitness center SoulCycle and food-ordering platform Seamless. “[Scott] has a terrific track record building and developing world-class, high-performing teams,” said CEO Josh Silverman. “His skill set is ideally suited to telling the story of what makes Etsy so special through growth initiatives aimed at attracting and building deeper relationships with customers.”
- Korean grocery delivery service Kurly Market raised a total $113 million in a Series D round of funding from investors Sequoia China and China’s Hillhouse Capital. Founded in 2015, Kurly Market said its revenue grew three times year over year to reach $131 million in 2018.
- Apparel retailer Forever 21 Inc. (No. 280 in the Top 1000) is in talks with potential lenders and restructuring advisers as it explores options for turning around its ailing business, according to people familiar with the matter and Bloomberg. The retailer is exploring financing that would shore up its liquidity and ensure founder Do Won Chang maintains control, sources said, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly. It’s also spoken with Apollo Global Management about lining up potential debtor-in-possession financing if it were to seek bankruptcy, the people said. The Los Angeles-based chain has opened large-format stores and expanded into new markets at a time when competitors have pulled back. Forever 21 operates hundreds of stores in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Latin America, and its international operations in particular have been a drag on business, one source said.