Walmart is launching a technology-startup incubator, dubbed Store No. 8, to “identify changes that will reshape the retail experience,” Bloomberg has reported.
Named after an early Walmart store used to test new strategies, the venture was announced at the ShopTalk conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas, by Marc Lore, CEO of the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer’s ecommerce operations and founder of Jet.com, which Walmart acquired last summer. The business news site said it will focus on such innovations as virtual reality, autonomous vehicle and drone delivery, and personalized shopping.
According to Bloomberg, it will partner with startups, venture capitalists and those in academia to promote innovation in areas such as robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. Walmart intends the venture to be a “fast-moving, separate entity” for identifying emerging technologies for development and use across the retail giant’s operations.
The news of Store No. 8 comes at a time when Walmart is ramping up its ecommerce operations to more successfully compete against Seattle-based ecommerce giant Amazon.com. This has included a number of strategic acquisitions since last summer, including Jet.com, outdoor apparel and gear retailer Moosejaw.com, footwear retailer Shoebuy.com and, just last week, women’s clothing retailer ModCloth.com.