As it struggles to compete with online retailers, Walmart seeks to put customer service at the forefront.
Walmart announced Monday that it will appoint a former American Express executive to the newly created role of Chief Customer Officer, focused on attracting shoppers and offering better customer service, at a time when competition in the retail industry has made it tough to retain custom.
The newly named executive, Janey Whiteside, will be responsible for both Walmart stores and the company’s e-commerce offerings and will join the retailer on Aug. 1, according to a memo sent to employees by Walmart U.S. Chief Executive Greg Foran and e-commerce chief Marc Lore.
Whiteside spent two decades at American Express, in areas including relationship management, marketing and 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,” the memo said.
While retailers and other customer-facing companies have long said customers are at the epicenter of their strategy, many corporations have silos that can impede different parts of a company from working together in harmony. That has paved the way for the emergence of the CCO role at more companies in the tech, retail, and consumer goods industries. According to the CCO Council, there are some 500 U.S. companies with a CCO now, compared to 20 in 2003.
Whiteside’s team will include another new appointee, Barbara Messing, who will join Walmart as Chief Marketing Officer in mid-August. She will replace Tony Rogers, who has moved to the retailer’s warehouse chain Sam’s Club in a new role.
Whiteside will be based in Hoboken, New Jersey, where Walmart-owned Jet.com is headquartered. Messing will be based in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart’s corporate headquarters, the memo said.
Walmart has made great strides in making sure e-commerce and stores work in tandem, investing billions into ensuring customers can easily pick up online order at stores, use any store to fill an e-commerce order, and enhance its mobile shopping apps. And it appears to be paying off: in its most recent quarter, Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce sales rose 33% even as more shoppers visited stores.