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03/16/2018

Ex-exec: Walmart cheated to vie with Amazon

Gina Acosta
Executive Editor
Gina Acosta profile picture
Tri Huynh suggests that Walmart mislabeled products so that "third-party vendors received lower commissions, failed to process customer returns and allowed offensive items onto the site." 

A former Walmart executive has sued the company alleging that the retailer engaged in unlawful conduct with respect to its e-commerce business in order to keep up with Amazon.

Tri Huynh, a former director of business development at Walmart.com, says he was fired in 2017 "under false pretenses" after approaching management regarding the firm's "overly aggressive push to show meteoric growth in its e-commerce business by any means possible—even illegitimate ones."

The executive filed a lawsuit Thursday indicating that his dismissal was a retaliation for warning his higher-ups about illegal actions by the firm.

Huynh suggests in the lawsuit that Walmart mislabeled products so that "third-party vendors received lower commissions, failed to process customer returns and allowed offensive items onto the site." 

“Wal-Mart sacrificed and betrayed its founder’s key principles of integrity and honesty, pushing those core values aside in its rush to win the e-commerce war at all costs. In doing this, it realized it must silence any whistle-blower who spoke up against its ‘win at all costs’ approach,” according to the complaint.

Retail Leader profiled Huynh last year in its 17 people to watch in 2017 feature.

Huynh spent three years at Amazon in the key role of category leader for the marketplace consumer electronics business. He left Amazon in 2014 to join the Walmart.com team located in San Bruno, Calif., and embarked on a mission to expand the online assortment offered by third party sellers in the Walmart.com online marketplace that had existed since 2009. 

Huynh, a refugee from Vietnam, arrived in the U.S. in 1980 at the age of 12, earned a Harvard MBA in 1996, and pursued a technology career at Booz Allen Hamilton, Array Networks, Infosys, Motif and Mu Sigma before landing at Amazon in 2011.

At Walmart, Huyn was part of a team led by Seth Beal, SVP of Walmart Global Marketplace, that is applying a different approach to expanding the marketplace offer. Unlike Amazon, sellers must submit an application to be considered for a listing in the marketplace and access to Walmart.com’s nearly 100 million monthly visitors.