In-store drones? Beacon technology? Virtual reality-enabled shopping? All could soon become a reality at Walmart stores.
Walmart is launching a startup incubator in Silicon Valley to identify new retail technologies that can be used across the company, Marc Lore, the CEO of Walmart‘s e-commerce operations announced Monday. This is the retail giant’s latest effort to enhance its e-commerce services and challenge competitors like Amazon.
“Every day, I become more and more convinced about the omnichannel advantage,” says Lore, referring to a sales strategy that combines online and in-store shopping, from the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas.
The incubator, dubbed ‘Store No. 8,’ is a reference to the location where Walmart experimented with new layouts and other innovations. The incubator will identify changes to the retail industry through technology like autonomous vehicles, virtual reality, drone delivery and personalized shopping. What’s more the incubator will partner with venture capitalists, startups and academics and exist as a fast-moving, separate entity.
Store No. 8 is the latest addition to Walmart’s growing tech presence. The retail giant launched @WalmartLabs, an innovation-focused tech division, in 2011. With locations in India, Brazil and the U.S., @WalmartLabs also aims to update the shopping experience with new technology.
In the last year, Walmart has scooped up a number of e-commerce companies including Jet.com, which was founded by Lore. It sold for $3.3 billion in September. Additionally, in the last two months, Walmart acquired three online retailers including ModCloth, Moosejaw and ShoeBuy.