Walmart_Intelligent_Retail_Lab_Levittown_NY.png
Walmart's Intelligent Retail Lab in Levittown, N.Y.

Walmart lands ex-Google, Amazon exec as CTO

Suresh Kumar takes on ‘elevated’ technology role at retail giant

Former Google and Amazon executive Suresh Kumar has joined Walmart as chief technology officer and chief development officer.

Walmart said Tuesday that Kumar will serve in a “new elevated” role in the CTO post and report directly to President and CEO Doug McMillon.

Kumar’s appointment comes after former Walmart CTO and executive vice president Jeremy King left the retailer in March to join social platform Pinterest Inc. as head of engineering.

“The technology of today and tomorrow enables us to serve our customers and associates in ways that weren’t previously possible. We want to take full advantage of those opportunities,” McMillon said in a statement. “Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud and machine learning. And he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results.”

Suresh_Kumar_Walmart_CTO.pngKumar (left) brings 25 years of technology experience — including at leading IT players — to Walmart. Most recently, he was vice president and general manager of display, video, app ads and analytics at Google, coming to the company from Microsoft, where he served as corporate vice president of cloud infrastructure and operations. Before that, Kumar spent 15 years at Amazon in various leadership roles, including vice president of technology for retail systems and operations, and led Amazon’s retail supply chain and inventory management systems. And prior to joining Amazon, he was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center.

“Walmart is one of the great success stories in how a company evolves over time to serve the changing needs of its customers, and today it is in the midst of a very exciting digital transformation,” Kumar said. “With more than 11,000 stores, a high-growth e-commerce business and more than 2 million associates worldwide, the potential for technology to help people at scale is unparalleled, and I am excited to be part of this.”

Walmart is headlong into a companywide digital transformation aimed not just to drive the growth of its business but also to help the retail giant operate more efficiently, run its stores better, and serve customers in new and more convenient ways — all in line with its “save money, live better” mantra. A glimpse of what Walmart’s growing tech prowess may bring in the future is at the Intelligent Retail Lab inside its Neighborhood Market store in Levittown, N.Y., which features artificial intelligence technology, interactive kiosks and displays and a glass-encased data center.

In grocery, Walmart is quickly ramping up online fulfillment, which helped drive a 37% increase in e-commerce sales in its recently completed first quarter. Currently, about 2,450 of Walmart’s U.S. stores offer free grocery pickup, and nearly 1,000 offer same-day grocery delivery. The company said it’s on track to offer same-day grocery delivery from 1,600 stores and pickup from 3,100 stores by the end of the year, which will provide coverage to about 50% of the U.S. population for delivery and about 80% for pickup.

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