Marc Lore, the e-commerce pioneer who figured out how to ship cat litter without loss and lured customers with discounts that even Amazon doesn’t offer, is leaving Walmart at the end of the month.
According to an 8K filing with the SEC, Lores’ last day as President and CEO of Walmart US E-Commerce is January 31, although he will remain in an advisory capacity until September 2021. With that, he will honor his commitment to sticking with Walmart for five years after acquiring his e-commerce startup Jet.com in 2016.
In a LinkedIn post detailing the change, Lore said the work he’s done with Walmart “will continue to change the lives of customers for years to come.”
Accidentally planning for the new normal
Although the Jet brand no longer existed in May 2020, both Lore and Jet helped prepare Walmart for the pandemic. However, at the time they partnered, their focus was on competing with Amazon.
In the end, they did both: Walmart’s ecommerce sales rose 79% in the third quarter, proving that the retailer has the ecommerce capabilities to meet the demands of the pandemic.
In his LinkedIn post, Lore said he was very proud of the online grocery growth, new app experience and next day delivery.
A new pricing structure – plus, technology and talent
But Lore’s greatest contribution is arguably logistics.
When Jet launched in 2015, financial news website Money.com called it “a mix of Costco and Amazon Prime” as the site focused on offering the lowest prices for consumer goods online. Buyers initially paid an annual fee of $ 49.99, but Jet dropped the membership model after just three months. However, Lore implemented an unprecedented pricing structure where customers were rewarded with discounts for foregoing the right to return products that were paid for with debit cards and / or ordered goods that could be shipped from the same warehouse.
The platform also provided Walmart.com with the talent and technology it needed to get where it is today.
Bumps on the road
It wasn’t always a smooth sailing. In his parting note, Lore recalled the “stationary giants of the Midwest and a coastal digital boom,” which were nonetheless compatible. And while that’s largely true, we’ve seen signs of incompatibility, such as Jet’s hub for urban consumers in September 2018 with grocery delivery and a partnership with Nike.
Sister service Jetblack made its debut a few months earlier, offering text-to-shop features to wealthy mothers in town, but was retired in February 2020.
And it remains to be seen how efforts to reach millennial buyers through acquisitions like DTC apparel brands Bonobos and Modcloth will play out – although it’s worth noting that Walmart dropped the latter at a loss in October 2020.
Diapers and pets
Still, Lore’s legacy in e-commerce is undisputed.
He founded the baby product website Diapers.com in 2005, and followed that success with the pet website Wag.com in 2011. The latter was somewhat risky – Pets.com was a notable dot.com bust, in part because dog food and cat litter were too expensive are shipping. But Lore told the New York Times that his website only offers free shipping above a certain threshold and therefore could avoid a similar fate. He was right, and Amazon called in 2010 (and closed it in 2017 after Lore’s blockbuster Walmart deal).
A few years later, Jet was born.
Now, after a while, Lore said he would “keep working with several startups”.