News Feature | October 2, 2014

Walmart Brings On Instagram CEO To Steer Technology, E-Commerce Decisions

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Walmart Instagram CEO

Walmart has always shown an interest in staying current with the pace of technology to help meet the needs of its customers. The company has launched several omni-channel initiatives to help increase sales and stay current in the minds of the consumer. Now they've brought a new individual on board to help steer their technology and e-commerce decisions as they move forward trying to rebound from their sluggish sales in the second quarter. The retailer announced on their website via press release that their Board of Directors has appointed Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram as a new member. Walmart also reported that Systrom will join Walmart's Technology and e-commerce Committee and its Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee.

The addition of Systrom should prove to be beneficial for the retailer, particularly as they look for technology to improve their connection to their audience, as well as compete against Amazon and the popularity of “dollar stores” like Dollar General. Walmart has already launched a mobile app, print-at-home coupons, and introduced an electronic price-matching system known as Savings Catcher. The latter arrived in August 2014, and Walmart has mentioned Savings Catcher shall soon feature eCoupons and eReceipts. Walmart praised Systrom's background in their news release. “Kevin’s entrepreneurial background and his technical and digital expertise will be invaluable as we further connect with customers and deploy new capabilities through e-commerce and mobile channels,” says Walmart's Chairman Rob Walton. ““Walmart is investing in e-commerce capabilities through talent, technology and fulfillment. Kevin’s passion and deep knowledge of social media align with our focus to engage customers through our digital and physical channels.”

Systrom should bring new vision to the retailer to help guide Walmart through developing easier ways for consumers to shop, whether it be in a physical store or online. He co-founded Instagram in 2010 and the company was purchased by Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion dollars. The social media network and photo app works extensively with brands, and has millions of users. As Walmart continues to focus on remodeling its digital shopping experience, Systrom is a valuable piece of the puzzle. Walmart itself has over 44,000 Instagram followers and as the retailer works with their Technology and eCommerce Committee, it will be interesting to see how the company's digital marketing evolves.

The retailer already has plans to make its website more friendly for shoppers, and recently added mobile optimization. Upon the announcement of Apple Pay on September 6,  walmart announced they wouldn't be accepting the payment option, and instead would continue working on their own payment app. In 2014, the retailer went on a shopping spree of technology companies, buying Luvocracy, AdChemy, Yumprint through @WalmartLabs; in all the retailer has purchased over 12 tech companies. They've also expressed interest in using 3-D printing technology. Walmart.com is slated for a “huge revamp” in early 2015, with the new website offering personalized product recommendations, a one-page checkout, a new search engine, and more mobile-friendly content.