business news in context, analysis with attitude

The always dependable Matthew Boyle at Bloomberg has a fascinating story friction in Bentonville. Here's how he frames the story:

"Not long ago, a Walmart Inc. store manager asked the company’s e-commerce department if it could send over the details of any online orders that customers were planning to pick up at the store that day.

"The internal network that usually zapped those orders from the website to the stores had temporarily crashed. The online team mocked the request, asking how that could be done with the network down. The store manager’s response: Find an adult to show you how to use a fax machine.

"The episode illustrates a broader culture clash at the world’s largest retailer, one that pits its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters against the coastal outposts that manage most of its online business.

"While it hasn’t dented sales, the internecine strife has had an impact: Investments backed by the digital squad have crimped Walmart’s already-thin profit margins, which have touched historic lows in recent quarters. Some high-profile acquisitions and other strategic moves have cratered. Talented executives from both camps have departed, while heralded new hires haven’t jelled."

The goal is to transform "the big-box behemoth into a so-called omnichannel retailer." But the path to success is not just filled with technological and infrastructural potholes, but populated with personalities - and maybe some egos - that are not all headed in the same directions.

You can read the entire story here.
KC's View: