Walmart (WMT) has hired an executive from Alphabet’s Google (GOOG, GOOGL) as its chief technology officer as the world’s biggest retailer increasingly looks to bolster e-commerce for customers and deepen functions within its physical stores.
Suresh Kumar was named CTO and chief development officer in a “newly elevated” role that reports directly to Doug McMillon, chief executive of the Bentonville, Ark.-based big-box chain. Kumar was most recently vice president and general manager of display, video, app ads and analytics at Google, Walmart said.
“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible,” said McMillon. “We want to take full advantage of those opportunities.”
Kumar was corporate vice president of cloud infrastructure and operations at Microsoft (MSFT) before joining Google. He also spent 15 years in “various leadership roles” at Amazon.com (AMZN), including leading the e-commerce giant’s retail supply chain and inventory-management systems.
Walmart has been increasingly pushing tech as retailers try to challenge Amazon’s online shopping dominance and add more capabilities in its stores to improve stocking levels and other data about brick-and-mortar locations. The retailer said last month it’s testing out tech in a real-world store in New York state through its Intelligent Retail Lab, or IRL. The lab uses sensors, cameras and processors to see what’s happening in the store.
“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today, it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation,” Kumar said. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth e-commerce business and more than two million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled.”
Walmart’s e-commerce sales in the US grew 37% in the fiscal first quarter, the company said earlier this month, driven by growth in online grocery, home and fashion on Walmart.com.