Walmart is creating a Tech Incubator in Silicon Valley that focuses on radically changing how people do shopping.
Called Store No. 8, after the Arkansas store where Walmart founder Sam Walton used to test out new features, it will work on developing next-gen technologies in the field of Virtual Reality, Machine Learning, Drone Delivery and Autonomous Vehicles.
Walmart aims to build an innovation center where entrepreneurs will be free from the constraints of its Arkansas HQ or the short-sightedness of Wall Street Analysts, and be able to develop bleeding-edge Retail Tech that Walmart needs to modernize over the next 5-10 years.
Store No. 8 will be located in Silicon Valley and work with startups wholly owned by Walmart but being run independently. It’s the next step towards instilling a dynamic culture into its E-commerce strategy under the leadership of Marc Lore, whose Jet.com was acquired by Walmart for $3 billion last year.
“There’s not a focus just on today, they can actually think bigger,” Lore said at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas. “It’s ring-fenced from the organization so they can just run fast.”
“We’re carrying on the original spirit of innovation that audaciously and fearlessly shaped the way the world shops, saves money and ultimately, lives better,” the company said on the Store No. 8 website.
Walmart has been become a hot e-commerce company lately – its marketplace expansion resulted in 30% growth in digital sales during the holidays. Also, in the past couple of months, it has acquired 3 online retailers ModCloth, ShoeBuy and Moosejaw to increase its online offerings.
The idea behind Store No. 8 is for Walmart to incubate & invest in startups, work with investors and academicians to develop its own proprietary technology in robotics, artificial intelligence, augmented realty and machine learning.
As Lore puts it, these startups will be shielded from the corporate side of Walmart so they can experiment and grow without the pressure of being a part of world’s biggest retailer.