Nearly three years after acquiring Jet.com for $3.3 billion and integrating its “smart cart” technology and supply chain teams, Walmart will officially fold the rest of Jet.com’s teams — including retail, marketing, technology, analytics, product and several others — into the Walmart.com business.
As part of the absorption, Simon Belsham’s role as Jet.com President will be eliminated. Belsham will remain with the company until August to help with the transition. Kieran Shanahan, who presently oversees Food, Consumables and Health and Wellness Categories for Walmart.com will be responsible for Jet.com’s go-forward strategy.
Marc Lore, President and CEO of Walmart eCommerce U.S. (and the original Founder and CEO of Jet.com) revealed the integration and executive changes in a blog post.
The Jet.com acquisition definitely paid massive dividends for the Walmart brand, which benefited from Lore’s presence. Upon acquiring more digitally native brands such as Bonobos, Moosejaw and ModCloth, among others, Walmart entirely revamped its e-Commerce experience and jumpstarted its online sales. In fact, while Walmart saw five straight quarters of digital sales growth declines prior to the Jet.com acquisition announcement in August 2016, culminating in a paltry 7% increase, the retailer saw e-Commerce sales jump 40% throughout all of 2018.
But as Walmart set its sights on competing with Amazon through its namesake web site, Jet.com began to take a back seat. When Walmart onboarded Jet.com’s “smart cart” system, which provides discounts for shoppers who pack more items together in one box or opt out of returns, it essentially eliminated Jet.com’s key differentiator.
Consumers have voted with their clicks. While Jet.com forecasted revenue of $1 billion in 2016, sales shrank to $689 million in 2019, according to Kantar Consulting.In March 2018, Jet.com traffic dipped approximately 60% compared with a year earlier, according to data from SimilarWeb. In contrast, Walmart.com traffic increased 5% within the same time period.
Jet.com Keeps Laser Focus On Grocery, Urban shoppers
With Jet.com’s sales continuing to dip, the company essentially relaunched its business strategy to focus on affluent shoppers in big cities, beginning with New York City. The updated experience features increased localization and personalization and improved grocery delivery options. The sharper emphasis on grocery in urban areas led the company to partner with Blue Apron.
“Food is now the center of everything,” Belsham said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I think it’s the most emotional category of products you can sell. With that in mind, today’s consumers are looking for convenience, speed and control in their shopping experience. We are offering scheduled, same-day delivery that will help busy families fill up on necessities.”
Walmart dialed back national marketing efforts for Jet.com in favor of Walmart.com over the past year, but will continue using Jet.com to target its city-based consumers. Despite its narrow focus, Lore continues to assert that the company will help Walmart reach urban consumers in cities across the U.S.
“Across most of the country, we saw we could get a much higher return on our marketing investments with Walmart.com, so we’ve dialed up our marketing spend there,” Lore wrote in the blog post. “However, in specific large cities where Walmart has few or no stores, Jet has become hyper focused on those urban customers. It added iconic local brands in New York and brought in products from brands like Apple and Nike that you haven’t seen on Walmart.com. While this has made Jet smaller from a sales perspective, it has helped us create a smart portfolio approach where our businesses complement each other.”