Though he is a newcomer to social media, an executive for retailing giant Walmart has a leading role in setting social media marketing trends. Eduardo Castro-Wright “75’s lack of experience in that arena is no hindrance, he says, because the basic philosophies of doing business still apply: “The fundamentals of retailing and what the customers want, that’s not changing.”

Castro-Wright, vice chairman of Walmart Stores, was appointed the company’s president and CEO of Global ecommerce and Global Sourcing in June 2010. As such, he leads Walmart’s global e-commerce and multi-channel retailing business, and oversees the company’s global sourcing group.

Walmart Stores vice chairman Castro-Wright '75 (right) accepts the 2011 M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award from Donald Zale '55.
Walmart Stores vice chairman Castro-Wright ’75 (right) accepts the 2011 M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Award from Donald Zale ’55.

Castro-Wright was previously president and CEO of Walmart U.S., where he led the transformation of stores, improvements in the customer experience, and the development of a strong leadership team. He is credited with having successfully changed many of the ways Walmart serves its customers in the United States and with positioning the company well for the future.

Aggieland made an imprint on Castro-Wright, he says. Castro-Wright shared with the top students in the Mays retailing program, during a private round-table session, that his time at Texas A&M prepared him for his career and positively shaped his character. He said the same thing to a crowd gathered in Ray Auditorium in early April, when he received his award: “The years I spent here at Texas A&M have made me the person that you see in front of you today.”

The occasion for the gathering was the 2011 Visionary Merchant Award given to Castro-Wright. He delivered the annual M.B. Zale Visionary Merchant Lecture, titled “The Future of Retailing.”

Walmart’s customers are increasingly accessing merchandise online; more than 10 percent of last year’s contacts (about 1.2 billion of more than 10 billion) were made online, Castro-Wright explained.

The Internet and social media have changed advertising, making it more transparent and competitive through more personal avenues, he said. “It is changing the way we as advertisers think about how we actually capture the attention of customers,” Castro-Wright said. “The 30-second commercial is being replaced by the 30-second upload, or 30-second recommendation, or 30-second comment.”

2011 honoree Eduardo Castro-Wright '75 (left), Donald Zale '55 (center), Gerald Ray '54 (right) and the Zale Scholars
2011 honoree Eduardo Castro-Wright ’75 (left), Donald Zale ’55 (center), Gerald Ray ’54 (right) and the Zale Scholars

The Zale lecture series was established in 1998 to honor Zale’s achievements in merchandising by recognizing the best in today’s practicing retailers.

Prior to the series, the Center for Retailing Studies held its CRS Sponsor Forum, which featured several Mays faculty members speaking to representatives from numerous companies that partner with the center.

Leonard Berry, distinguished professor of marketing and founder of the Center for Retailing Studies, spoke on “Investing in Employee Health in the Workplace.” Berry and a colleague studied 10 companies known for comprehensive workplace wellness programs. That research indicated offering health benefits in-house or making them easily accessible boosted the companies’ bottom lines and improved employees’ health and morale.

Allan Chen, associate professor of marketing, spoke on “Price Point and Price Rigidity.”

Abbie Shipp, assistant professor of management, addressed “Boomerang Employees: Letting Them Go & Getting Them Back.”

Michael Wesson, associate professor of management, addressed the topic of “Leadership: Where we’ve been and where we’re going.”