- Walmart has tapped grocery veteran Simon Belsham to be its new president of Jet effective immediately, according to an internal memo from Jet founder and Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore.
- Belsham worked as an executive for seven years at the United Kingdom-based Tesco grocery chain, helping to expand its online business, according to Belsham’s LinkedIn page.
- At Jet, Belsham will be "driving an integrated customer experience with grocery and general merchandise," according to the memo, provided by the company.
Jet, which Walmart bought in 2016 for $3 billion, has rapidly grown its assortment under the mega retailer and the stewardship of Lore, now head of Walmart’s e-commerce division.
The company beefed up its grocery offerings in particular last year with plans to add its own private label grocery line. At the time, the effort was seen seen as a response to Amazon’s own private label development, including the many Whole Foods 365 selections now available on the e-tailer’s site. It also allows Jet to offer unique items that shoppers can find only on its site.
Bringing in a grocery-minded exec could deepen Walmart and Jet’s competition in the space with Amazon, which in February started same-day delivery in some markets for Whole Foods products.
Among Jet’s advantages in the fight is a gamified shopping system that lets shoppers lower their final price by making a series of choices on shipping speed, return policy, and other factors. The site offers free shipping on orders $35 and above, and recently revived its JetCashrewards program. According to a recent report from Field Agent, shoppers prefer Jet.com for packaged groceries over Amazon, Target and even Walmart.com.
Meanwhile, the Walmart banner has added more than 1,000 grocery pickup locations as it vies for grocery market share in a fiercely competitive market. Recent research showed the retail giant closing the price gap with Amazon, while Jet continued to be more expensive than the e-tailer by about 6%.
With the hire of Belsham, Walmart and Jet have further signaled the importance of grocery to the company’s e-commerce strategy going forward. "With Jet Grocery being an integral part of the strategy, Simon brings incredible experience in scaling grocery delivery and his unique background in converging technology and retail to create amazing experiences for customers," Lore said his memo.