Walmart has a new weapon to take on Amazon

Getty/Rick T. WilkingA woman takes a selfie in a Walmart store with a Bossanova shelf-scanning robot.
  • Walmart has hired its first chief customer officer, Janey Whiteside.
  • She will oversee all customer-focused initiatives online and in Walmart stores.
  • The move comes as Walmart focuses more and more on the customer experience, and competes with Amazon.

Walmart is placing a renewed focus on the customer.

The retail giant has hired its first chief customer officer, Janey Whiteside. She was previously an executive vice president at American Express, where she managed benefits and services for the financial company, which included customer engagement.

“Janey will play a critical role looking after our brand and thinking through the customer journey – from acquiring new customers to their shopping experience and resolving any issues they may have,” Walmart’s announcement to employees about the hire reads, according to Reuters.

The move comes as Walmart is striving to improve its offerings for customers both online and in its stores as competition among retailers grows ever more fierce. It has embarked on programs to renovate and improve the experience for customers in stores.

This comes as it refreshes its online presence as well, and offers customer-friendly initiatives like free 2-day shipping over $US35 and speedy returns in-store for online purchases.

With these initatives, Walmart has likely also seen that customers respond favourably.

“This new role is a step change for Walmart and it reflects the company’s passion for keeping the customer at the center of everything it does,” Whiteside wrote in her LinkedIn post announcing her hiring.

These services cut into profit margins and are logistically difficult to install, but Walmart did it because it knew it needed an offering to compete with Amazon’s well-oiled machine.

Amazon’s famous “customer-obsessed” mindset is one of the most important things that has seen it dominate online, with nearly 50% market share at peak online shopping periods. Walmart is now looking to go toe-toe with that behemoth, and this new executive position will be just one of those ways it hopes to get ahead.

Walmart has its own weapons to bring to the war, however, like its thousands of stores spread throughout the US.

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