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Jet's 'younger and cooler' than Wal-Mart, but they're more alike than you think: McMillon

Marc Lore CEO of and Doug McMillon CEO of Walmart
Source: Walmart

Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon considers himself Marc Lore's "agent" and "bodyguard," and said he's working to keep the founder and CEO of separate from Wal-Mart's "bureaucracy."

At Wal-Mart's annual meeting with investors in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Thursday, McMillon said he's fielded many questions over why a start-up entrepreneur such as Lore would want to partner with the corporate behemoth.

"We're really more alike than people would guess, even though Jet's 'younger and cooler,' some might say," McMillon said.

He likened Lore's focus on finding new ways to deliver savings to customers to the mindset of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who built Wal-Mart's business by promising the lowest prices. Lore, who has been on the job 17 days, chimed in that he founded his e-commerce company on three core values: trust, transparency and fairness.

Jet uses a pricing algorithm that allows customers to save money by adding more items to their basket, or paying with a credit card over a debit card. It also reduces the price shoppers pay if more of their items are shipped from the same distribution center.

"We did live those values in a way that no company ever has," Lore said.

"We are changing consumer behavior," he said, adding that he's "incredibly excited" about the assets he now has at his disposal through the Wal-Mart tie-up. Those include a network of fulfillment centers and sourcing capabilities that are "not even close" to what it had previously.

Wal-Mart completed the $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet last month. As of August, had a run rate of $1.2 billion. It has acquired 5 million customers who average 6.9 units per order.

In the first half of the year, Wal-Mart fell well behind its previous goal to grow online sales between 20 percent and 30 percent over three years. CFO Brett Biggs told investors that excluding the impact of its sale of Yihaodian, an online grocery business in China, earlier this year, Wal-Mart's digital sales should come in near that range in the back half. It could potentially top that level in fiscal years 2018 and 2019, Biggs said.

"If Marc can be Marc within this company, then great things are going to happen," McMillon said.