BJ's Wholesale Club on Wednesday announced Naveen Seshadri will take on the newly created position of vice president of digital commerce and experience, focusing on the membership retailer’s continued expansion of its "omni capabilities" and leading its digital customer experience strategy, e-commerce merchandising, digital marketing and digital insights and analytics.
Most recently Seshadri served as Lonely Planet’s chief operating officer, where he was responsible for leading strategy and digital transformation. Before that he held senior management positions at Sears Holdings, running product strategy and analytics initiatives.
BJ’s in October announced a new mobile app with an Add-to-Card feature that allows customers to save coupons in-app directly to their club membership cards, where they are automatically applied to in-club purchases. Last fall the warehouse club also launched separate new websites dedicated to two of its private consumer product labels, Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms.
BJ’s is struggling to stay strong in membership-based warehouse retail as Costco and Walmart’s Sam’s Club dominate the market and amid evidence that Amazon is challenging the model with its own robust Prime membership.
The retailer wasted no time trying to capitalize on Walmart’s decision last month to shrink its Sam’s Club division, announcing special offers for Sam’s Club members the very day of Walmart’s announcement. The company directed employees laid off by Sam's to its own application portal. BJ's had already recently revamped its website and mobile app and boosted its office supplies operations to appeal to small business owners, a key Sam’s Club segment. Costco, meanwhile, continues to post surprising sales growth, both on and offline, despite Amazon’s encroachment.
BJ’s is under pressure as Amazon has increasingly moved into grocery and office supplies. Leonard Green & Partners LP and CVC Capital Partners, the club’s private equity owners, last spring were reportedly preparing for a possible sale after abandoning the idea of an initial public offering. Speculation swirled then that Amazon might buy the retailer.
The company seems to be mostly shrugging all that off. With Seshadri's appointment, BJ's is fortifying its move to blur its brick-and-mortar and e-commerce experience. Last May, the company named two retail industry veterans to two top technology jobs, hiring Scott Kessler as chief information officer and Rafeh Masood as chief digital officer.
"BJ's has made significant advancements in our omnichannel capabilities, and I'm pleased to have Naveen join our team," Masood said in a statement. "Naveen has extensive experience in driving omnichannel transformations and his leadership will help as we work to deliver more to our members."