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Wal-Mart Stores has promoted Walmart.com COO John Fleming to head its online operations. Analysts say the choice indicates a continuation of tighter integration between Wal-Mart’s online and offline operations.
After a long void in the CEO spot at WalMart.com, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. yesterday promoted Walmart.com COO John Fleming to head its online operations. Analysts say the choice of Fleming, who joined WalMart.com two years ago as its chief merchandising manager, indicates a continuation of tighter integration between Wal-Mart’s online and offline operations that Fleming has implemented over the past year. “Wal-Mart stores and Walmart.com are moving more toward a bricks-and-clicks strategy,” says Neil Stern, an analyst with retail consultants McMillan/Doolittle in Chicago.
Fleming succeeds Jeanne Jackson, a high-profile retail executive who left a position as head of Gap Inc.’s Internet and catalog operations and CEO of its Banana Republic unit to head up Walmart.com in March 2000. Jackson left last December, leaving the CEO spot open with Fleming in charge as COO. Fleming reports to Lee Scott, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores. “Walmart.com is more deeply integrated with the overall Wal-Mart operation than it ever has been,” Scott said. “The Walmart.com program has continued to improve under John’s leadership.”
Among the new ways Wal-Mart is integrating online and offline operations are through film processing services and automobile tire sales. Customers who drop off film to be developed at a Wal-Mart store can request that digital versions of their photos be uploaded to Walmart.com, where they can then retrieve them and store them on their computer or e-mail them to friends and relatives. At the same time, customers with digital cameras can upload digital photos to Walmart.com and place an order to have them printed and framed for pick-up at a Wal-Mart store.
To purchase tires, shoppers can check the kind they need on Walmart.com, then schedule installation at a Wal-Mart store.