Walmart has revealed details of a new technology incubator it has developed in Silicon Valley.
Jet.com having a major impact on Walmart’s strategy
Known internally as ‘Store No. 8’, the incubator is being driven by the Jet.com team, the ecommerce business which Walmart acquired last year. This business has had a significant impact in shaping Walmart’s ecommerce strategy, with Marc Lore, its founder, now heading up Walmart’s US ecommerce business. Jet.com has also made a number of key acquisitions recently including ShoeBuy, Moosejaw and ModCloth. The incubator is led by Seth Beal, who previously oversaw Walmart’s global marketplace and digital store operations.
Focusing on the opportunity to adopt new technologies within the business
‘Store No. 8’ is focusing on assessing the opportunities for innovative technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and driverless vehicles within the retail environment. It will partner with venture capitalists and academics to help setup and support start-up organisations to develop fresh solutions for Walmart. These will be used to help the retailer better compete in a new digitally-driven era.
Builds on progress which has been made with @WalmartLabs
Prior to establishing this venture, Walmart has been at the forefront of tapping into new technologies and innovative start-up companies through its @WalmartLabs division. Since forming in 2011, this unit has acquired over 15 companies which have provided the retailer with access to new technologies and capabilities. These have principally operated at the intersection of ecommerce, mobile and social. ‘Store No. 8’ has a much broader remit than this in terms of the technologies which it will focus on.
Looking at the opportunities for Walmart over the longer term
Setting up this incubator demonstrates how Walmart is looking at the opportunities for the business over the longer term. While it is currently building its ecommerce business and reinventing its store formats to ensure their future relevance, these initiatives are focused on bridging the gap between its legacy store business and the next three to five years. The types of technologies which will be developed within ‘Store No. 8’ will be central to a much bolder change in how the retailer operates and goes to market over a longer time frame.
| Stewart Samuel, Program Director, IGD Canada|
Based in Canada, Stewart heads up all of IGD's research and coverage on Walmart globally. He is also responsible for shaping IGD's research program across North America. Contact Stewart at email@example.com for further insight on the region.