Walmart taps Aerosoles exec to lead online fashion
Walmart has tapped Denise Incandela to be SVP of fashion within its Walmart U.S. e-commerce division, according to a note to employees from Scott Hilton, formerly Jet chief revenue officer and now chief revenue officer of Walmart U.S. e-commerce. She begins work Oct. 2 out of the company’s Hoboken, NJ office.
Incandela will lead the fashion business for the company’s Walmart.com, Jet.com and Shoes.com sites, according to the letter, which was emailed to Retail Dive by a Walmart spokesperson.
She’s held various roles in apparel, most recently as interim CEO at women's footwear brand Aerosoles, which filed for bankruptcy last week. Before that, she was President of Global Digital for Ralph Lauren and Chief Marketing Officer of Saks Fifth Avenue, where she led marketing and digital.
With the hire of Incandela, Walmart continues to shape its e-commerce teams. Its ongoing massive push to improve its digital sales included the acquisition this year of women’s apparel site Modcloth, menswear site Bonobos and outdoor apparel site Moosejaw, and the leadership of those sites has remained to run them as stand-alone entities along with the buying teams for the company’s e-commerce.
Shoebuy CEO Mike Sorabella, (a site Walmart is now calling "Shoes.com") for example, now heads up footwear for all of Walmart's e-commerce, including Jet.com and Wal-Mart.com, while Moosejaw CEO Eoin Comerford similarly runs the company's outdoor e-commerce vertical. That means that brands that may want to sell through Walmart have enhanced opportunities, with options to sell through one site or another (or more), Ravi Jariwala, senior director of public relations at Walmart.com, told Retail Dive earlier this year. "That helps up-level the experience for our existing customers and also helps us reach new customers," he said.
While in some ways the retail giant's digital teams are a reflection of broken down siloes, some boundaries between Walmart and Jet remain hard lines in the sand. While the company last month announced that Jet will feature items from Modcloth and Bonobos, part of an effort to expand the customer base to include younger, more urban and wealthier shoppers, for example, those brands won't be featured on Walmart.com or in Walmart stores.
All of the recently acquired brands are meant to improve the experience for existing customers and extend the company's reach to new customers, Jariwala told Retail Dive. Some of those new customers are in demographic groups that don't generally frequent Walmart stores. The retail giant's average customer is less wealthy, less urban and quite a bit older than those typically shopping at Target and Amazon, and Walmart has had difficulty in the past moving beyond that core base.
Jariwala made clear that the brands will continue as standalone sites, and executives from those companies have sought to ensure loyal customers that little will change. That's for good reason, marketing experts say. "Otherwise, Walmart will alienate some of the following of the Modcloth customers who are so passionate," Kelly-Jo Sands, executive vice president of marketing technology at marketing firm Ansira, told Retail Dive earlier this year. "If you tie those two names too closely together, you might see a fanatic backlash."
Incandela's arrival comes as rival Amazon continues to build considerable momentum in fashion. Starting last year, the e-commerce giant has been launching a series of private label clothing and accessories brands in various sub-categories, most recently in footwear. The company is also experimenting with various sales and delivery models, including a new apparel subscription service (currently in beta), called Prime Wardrobe.
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