The monthly subscription price has yet to be determined, he
said, adding, "think of it as cheap." Initially, Walmart.com will
choose the products to include in the box, then monitor how popular
they are based on reorder activity. Mr. Ashe likened Goodies to the
Birchbox program for cosmetics, and if it gains traction, he said
marketers may be willing to pay to include their products.
Mr. Ashe, who took the top Walmart e-commerce job in January
after running CBS Interactive, noted that he didn't have much
retail experience coming in, but joked that he had worked in his
father's small retail store in Knoxville, Tenn., when he was
growing up. And in one of his first public appearances since taking
the high-profile e-commerce role, Mr. Ashe laid out his vision for
Walmart, which includes making considerable use of having the
world's biggest combination of online and offline retail
One way Walmart.com is doing that is by applying the social
analytics developed by its @WalmartLabs e-commerce and mobile
R&D unit. Mr. Ashe said that includes mining every tweet it can
find from the brand's 16 million-plus Facebook fans. That analysis
earlier this year helped identify a cake-pop maker as a popular
item among shoppers.
"We were able to get those into stores immediately, and they
were big sellers as a result," Mr. Ashe said. "We probably never
would have found that product without the Twitter feed."
"In many ways, the ethos of Walmart and ethos of the internet
are exactly the same," Mr. Ashe said, including the focus on the
lowest possible price. "When I looked at the company from the
outside, I couldn't think of a company that was better positioned
to be successful in the transition to the internet or e-commerce
Walmart is seeing strong results from the most recent upgrade of
its iPhone app, including an in-store GPS feature that lets people
find products in stores. App downloads have tripled since the
latest upgrade, and 10% to 20% of users are using the in-store GPS
feature, said Gibu Thomas, senior VP-mobile and digital of Walmart.
Only available on the iPhone now, the GPS feature should be
available on Android and other devices within weeks, Mr. Thomas
"There's probably no way to overstate the importance of mobile
over the next 10 years in e-commerce," Mr. Ashe said. "And we
intend to play to win in mobile." But much of that victory will
come from efforts that tie mobile to the store, such as in-store
A recently launched "pay with cash" program, Mr. Ashe said, is
opening Walmart.com to "a whole segment of the population that 's
being ignored for no apparent reason."
The product is still shipped to homes, though customers pay with
cash at Walmart stores.
"One of the more interesting things about this that we didn't
expect is that only 60% of the people actually pay with cash," Mr.
Ashe said. The other 40% are simply people uncomfortable giving
their credit-card numbers out over the internet.
So the customer base drawn by the program is a combination of
the "unbanked" without credit cards or checking accounts and those
afraid of identity theft, said Joel Anderson, president of
Walmart.com actually identified the need for the program, he
said, when it tested Walmart.com stores in strip centers in
California last year and discovered many people were buying
MoneyPak or other cash cards in stores and then using the computers
in the stores to order products to ship home, Mr. Anderson
"What hasn't moved online yet are the true grocery and
consumables categories," Mr. Ashe said, adding, "it may never get
all the way there." But he said the Walmart-To-Go home-delivery
service the company is testing may be a way to help that