• Fri. Sep 18th, 2020

Dimancherouge

Technology

Wayfair hires Walmart alum to run supplier tech

Dive Brief:

  • Wayfair has hired Fiona Tan as global head of customer and supplier technology, the home goods e-tailer announced Wednesday. 
  • Tan comes to Wayfair after nearly seven years at Walmart where she served as senior vice president of U.S. technology. At Walmart, she oversaw vendor and consumer technology. 
  • Tan will report to CTO Jim Miller, who joined the company in April after four years on the board. Miller is the former CEO of Arevo, an additive manufacturing company, and a former advisor to the supply chain management programs at Howard University and the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business. Miller also served in supply chain leadership roles at Google, Sanmina-SCI Corporation, Cisco and Amazon. 

Dive Insight:

Wayfair executives regularly tout their vendor platform as a competitive edge in a world where vendors have very little historical data to go on, as the online furniture business is relatively young. It follows naturally that the company is looking to put more talent behind it.

Tan’s experience at Walmart overseeing vendor-facing technology and leading strategy for Walmart Labs, the company’s emerging tech arm, will carry over to her new position.

Wayfair sees expansive product choice as a differentiator in the consumer marketplace. So, attracting vendors is a key element to its success. Technology and data are inducements it uses to attract those vendors. The software many of Wayfair’s 12,000 vendors use to hook into Wayfair’s Castlegate logistics network also provides data vendors can use to better mage their businesses, executives said. 

“We offer our suppliers a view of our demand and inventory needs via powerful data and analytics. Through our technology platform, we believe many of our suppliers have increased their sales, which has strengthened their loyalty to us,” reads the company’s 2019 annual filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic has upped the value of reliable demand forecasting. Wayfair said it can provide that information with its vendor platform.

“We aided suppliers in pivoting hard as store closures mounted. And through nearly constant communication together, we were able to demand plan and optimize the flow of product to the customer,” said CEO Niraj Shah on an August earnings call. 

Throughout the pandemic, Wayfair has used a high-touch approach to handling its largest vendors, Shah said, but improving and expanding the capability of existing tech tools will provide suppliers with the data needed to get a picture of future demand for vendors of all sizes. 

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