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Industry NewsWalmart unveils "Store 8" tech-startup incubator

Walmart unveils “Store 8” tech-startup incubator

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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is creating a technology-startup incubator in Silicon Valley to identify changes that will reshape the retail experience, including virtual reality, autonomous vehicle and drone delivery and personalized shopping.

The incubator will be called Store No. 8, a reference to a Walmart location where the company experimented with new store layouts, according to a Bloomberg report. Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s e-commerce operations, announced the incubator on Monday at the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas.

Walmart has been overhauling its online team to better challenge Amazon.com with greater selection and lower prices. Lore founded Jet.com, which the retailer acquired in September for about US$3.3 billion in pursuit of Amazon in the e-commerce race. Lore said Walmart has an advantage over “pure play” e-commerce companies because of its large network of stores that attract shoppers for such items as fresh food.

Store No. 8 is the latest example of Lore’s influence on Walmart, Bloomberg reports. In January, Lore announced management changes and a new incubation and strategic-partnerships division, to be led by Seth Beal. The incubator will partner with startups, venture capitalists and academics to promote innovation in robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. The goal is to have a fast-moving, separate entity to identify emerging technologies that can be developed and used across Walmart.

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