Walmart Canada, the Canadian arm of the U.S.-based retail giant, wanted to find a fast way to be able to expand the selection of products it offers online to Canadian residents via its website in Canada. The retailing giant tied into the CommerceHub network where close to 10,000 product suppliers congregate online, ready to ship goods.
"It does give us access to vendors of all sizes," says Simon Rodrigue, general manager of e-commerce for Walmart Canada. CommerceHub offers a way to communicate with thousands of direct-ship suppliers so that Walmart Canada can place electronic purchase orders for direct shipment to Canadian customers. It's like a virtual warehouse that augments Walmart Canada's own supply chain, long known for its use of Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) technology.
CommerceHub is said to manage $4 billion in goods annually and is used by retailers that include Sears, Kohl's, Costco and Staples, among others.
Walmart Canada, which has about 330 locations, has only been conducting e-commerce online at its website for the past year. Rodrigue says its focus is on serving Canadian customers and the site won't ship across the border. By hooking directly into CommerceHub, it's enlarging the customer's online shopping experience. Rodrigue says the e-commerce development focus now is looking at how to reach customers effectively via mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.
Rodrigue wouldn't say much more about it at this point, except that mobile e-commerce is envisioned as reaching shoppers who carry mobile devices while in Walmart stores well as outside of them. "We want to allow the customer to buy what they want, when they want," he said.
Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.