Walmart has brought on Tesco veteran, Simon Belsham, to serve as president of its e-commerce business, Jet.com, acquired for $3 billion in 2016 to help the company better combat the Amazon threat. Belsham will be based out of Hoboken and will oversee the full operation of the Jet.com business, including its increasing focus on online grocery.
Belsham will take the role vacated by Liza Landsman, who became president following the Jet.com acquisition when founder Marc Lore moved up to oversee Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce operations. Landsman announced last month she’s joining VC firm NEA.
Lore, who previously sold Quidsi (Diapers.com) to Amazon, built Jet with the goal of disrupting e-commerce yet again – this time, with a model that rewarded shoppers with discounts when they took certain actions, like agreeing not to return items or buying in bulk, for example. The site is also meant to appeal to younger shoppers who may not have an affinity for the Walmart brand itself. Even its own label products reflect this more millennial focus, with their artistic, almost tattoo-like designs and call-outs to product sourcing (e.g. “fair trade” or “organic”).
In an email to Jet.com employees, first reported by Reuters, Lore specifically notes how Belsham’s experience at Tesco and U.K. online grocery business Ocado will help Jet.com as its scales its own efforts in this space with Jet Grocery.
“Simon spent seven years at Tesco, UK’s top grocery and general merchandise retailer, leading their Grocery Online transformation from ‘tablet to table’ for all of U.K. and 10 markets across Central Europe and Asia. He also built a general merchandise platform for Ocado, a U.K.-based innovator in online grocery,” wrote Lore, in the email. “Most recently, he built deep experience in reinventing retail as CEO of venture-backed Notonthehighstreet.com, a curated gifting platform. His omnichannel experience and track record of innovation from his time in consumables and durables will help spearhead Jet’s focus to be the leading online retailer for the urban consumers,” Lore said.
Jet Grocery is only one way Walmart is tackling online grocery – the company has also rolled out online ordering with curbside pickup across the U.S., and has committed to expanding its grocery delivery options in partnership with Uber and Deliv. Its Sam’s Club division also partnered with Instacart for same-day grocery delivery and launched an Amazon Prime-like membership model offering free delivery for most of its online products.
Despite these efforts, Walmart’s e-commerce growth slowed over the holidays, and the company is now facing claims from a former exec who says Walmart has been inflating its e-commerce growth numbers.
As president of Jet.com, Belsham will report directly to Lore.
Meanwhile, Jet’s existing leadership team, including GM Andrew Gasper, Chief Customer Officer J. David Echegoyen, and VP of Analytics Jack Hanlon, will report to Belsham.
“I’m incredibly excited to join Jet and become part of the Walmart eCommerce team. I’ve long been an admirer of both Walmart and the Jet founders, and together we have a formidable team combining some of the world’s best retailers and entrepreneurs,” said Besham, in a statement. “There are so many ways technology can change retail and be a force for good in our lives. In my view, there is no business better positioned to take advantage of the opportunity ahead than the combination of Walmart and Jet. I believe this creates a unique moment to build something very differentiated and engaging for customers and I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and lead Jet during this exciting and transformative time,” he added.