Walmart Launches Tech Incubator

Walmart (WMT) unveiled a new tech incubator today called “Store No. 8.” The incubator is an attempt by the retail giant to reshape the retail experience and shift market share away from the company’s main competitors.

The incubator will be a company that works to experiment with new store layouts to entice shoppers to buy.

Marc Lore, Wal-mart’s chief operator of e-commerce operations, has made significant changes to Wal-Mart’s e-commerce operations since joining the company in September. Lore, founder of Jet.com, sold his company to Wal-Mart for $3.3 billion.

Lore, the chief reason for the tech incubator, states that Wal-Mart’s large network of stores is able to lure in consumers that purchase fresh food. The continual foot traffic allows rthe company to have a competitive advantage of e-commerce stores, which in most cases, do not ship fresh food to consumer homes.

Lore is working to combine in-store and online shopping experiences through an omnichannel approach.

The incubator’s approach is to team up with robotics, machine learning, AI and VR companies, academics and venture capitalists. The company will work to find ways to innovate the way Wal-Mart operates.

Wal-mart’s acquisition of Jet.com and the talent of Lore helped the company increase e-commerce sales by 30% during the holiday season. The company has expanded its marketplaces to compete against Amazon. Wal-mart also purchased ShoeBuy, ModCloth and Moosejaw, all online retailers, since the start of 2017.

The incubator, while designed to help Wal-mart stay ahead of trends, will operate independently and not feel the pressure of advancing Wal-mart stores. Jet.com, Lore’s former company, is also slated to be revamped and will continue to run as a startup rather than a part of the Wal-mart brand.

The incubator will work on old ideas in retail, but will have management check on them to invent practical applications and keep the focus on viable innovations.

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