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商业 - 科技

沃尔玛的电子商务自新之路

Jessi Hempel 2014年01月10日

这家零售巨头虽然进军电子商务的时间较晚,眼睁睁看着亚马逊在互联网零售领域建立了自己的霸权。但现在,它正在全力打通下上线下的隔阂,为消费者提供无处不在、无缝连接的购物体验。

    亚马逊(Amazon)是互联网零售行业中当之无愧的王者,而沃尔玛(Wal-Mart)则是超市巨头。多年来,这两家公司相对隔绝地存在着,购物者不是选择亚马逊,就是选择沃尔玛。

    这种状况不会持续多久了。据沃尔玛的尼尔•阿什说,消费者越来越不会在相互隔离的线上、线下购物之间做选择——他们会想要得到一种线上线下完美融合的零售体验。而这正是这家零售巨头渴望提供的东西。阿什说:“如果我们向消费者暴露我们的组织结构,我们就输了。”

    身为沃尔玛全球电子商务总裁兼首席执行官(CEO),阿什负责引导沃尔玛迈入更趋数字化的未来——同时向这家全球最大的零售企业添加一些硅谷“魔法粉”。今年1月6日,在众多营销和技术高管于拉斯维加斯举行的一场私人聚会上,他与《财富》高级特约编辑亚当•拉辛斯基一起讨论了公司的策略。

    沃尔玛很庞大。句号。这一点毋庸置疑。

    这家公司去年实现营收4,660亿美元,从而使它获得了《财富》世界500强企业榜首宝座。它长期以来一直是一家在技术上领先的企业,熟练地管理着物流,向旗下遍及世界各地的11,000家门店供应货物,配备工作人员。但这家零售企业较晚才进入电子商务领域。阿什在2012年从哥伦比亚广播集团(CBS Interactive)旗下的互动媒体公司CBS Interactive跳槽加盟沃尔玛,一直负责把电子商务变成这家公司的核心业务。

    这一点在2014年将会更加重要,因为消费者现在不太关注线上购物与线下购物之间的差别。现在,他们已经开始在家里、在商店、在地铁上、甚至在办公室里购物。他们用智能手机比较价格,然而查清详细信息,在下班途中取走线上购买的物品,要求购买的食品杂货送货上门。而且他们已经开始期望零售商足够灵活,能够随时随地在一切平台上为他们提供服务。

    亚马逊已经做到了这点。它在自己的网站上增加了食品杂货销售和录像带租赁服务。它创造了亚马逊金牌服务(Amazon Prime)。这项付费增值服务的年费为79美元,提供免费的两日送达服务。而且它还在继续在美国各地建设实体设施,比如仓库和取货点。

    沃尔玛也做到了这点。总体而言,过去十年以来,沃尔玛一直在眼睁睁地看着亚马逊横扫互联网零售领域,而自己在很大程度上却忽略了互联网在购物体验中占据的核心位置。阿什认为,未来,购物者的预期转变将会有利于沃尔玛发挥优势。他说:“关键在于我们如何利用我们拥有的资产,让这些资产跟上时代的步伐。”   

    Amazon (AMZN) is the undisputed master of online retail. Wal-Mart (WMT) is a superstore juggernaut. For years, the two companies existed in relative isolation, an either/or proposition for shoppers.

    Not for long. Increasingly, customers won't choose between buying online or offline -- they 'll want a retail experience that fuses the two seamlessly, according to Wal-Mart's Neil Ashe. Which is what the mega-retailer aspires to offer. "If we demonstrate our organizational structure to them, we've lost," Ashe says.

    As president and CEO of global e-commerce, Ashe is charged with leading Wal-Mart into a more digital future -- and sprinkling a bit of Silicon Valley pixie dust onto the world's largest retailer. On Jan. 6, he joined Fortune senior editor-at-large Adam Lashinsky at an intimate gathering of senior marketing and technology executives in Las Vegas to discuss the company's strategy.

    Wal-Mart is big. Full stop.

    The company pulled in $466 billion in revenue last year, earning it the top spot on the Fortune 500. It has long been a technology leader, managing logistics expertly to supply and staff its 11,000 stores around the world. But the retailer has been late to the e-commerce game. Ashe, who joined Wal-Mart in 2012 from CBS Interactive, has been tasked with making e-commerce central to the company.

    That will be more critical in 2014 as consumers pay less attention to the difference between buying something online and buying it off. Already, they are shopping at home, in stores, on the subway, at the office. They are comparing prices and checking out details on their smartphones, picking up online purchases on the way home from work, having their groceries delivered. And they have come to expect retailers to be nimble enough to meet them anywhere.

    Amazon gets this. It added grocery sales and video rentals to its website. It created its Prime service, priced at $79 per year with free two-day shipping. And it continues to build physical locations -- warehouses and pick-up locations -- across the U.S.

    Wal-Mart gets this, too. Wal-Mart has largely watched Amazon clean up on web retail over the past decade while it largely ignored the centrality of the Internet to the shopping experience. Ashe believes that shoppers' shifting expectations will work to the company's advantage. "This is about how we take the assets we have and make them contemporary," he says.

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