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Walmart Pushes Omnichannel Shopping with New Tech Incubator

Online-Store-shop_iconWalmart recently announced another step toward further developing its e-commerce business with the creation of a technology incubator called Store No. 8 to create new retail online businesses as well as help the retail giant better compete against Amazon.com.

Store No. 8 expands on Walmart’s online aspirations, which include the company’s acquisition of e-commerce company Jet.com for $3.3 billion last summer. Walmart.com and Jet.com operate as separate brands, while sharing technology and talent between both companies.

The Silicon Valley-based Store No 8, which refers to a Walmart location in Arkansas where the company would try out new ideas, will invest in and partner with entrepreneurs, startups and venture capitalists, among others, according to CNBC. The technology incubator will focus on areas including robots, virtual and augmented reality, and artificial intelligence.

Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart’s e-commerce operations and Jet.com founder, announced Store No. 8 during the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas March 20. Lore said Walmart has an advantage over e-commerce-only retailers because of its network of stores, according to Bloomberg Technology. “Every day, I become more and more convinced about the omnichannel advantage,” Lore said, referring to the combination of online and in-store sales.

Leading Store No. 8 will be Seth Beal, previously Walmart’s senior vice president for global marketplace and digital store operations, and Katie Finnegan, who led Jet’s corporate development. “We knew we needed to keep investing in the future of retail,” Beal recently told The New York Times. “We’re making sure that we make the right short-term decisions but don’t neglect the long term.”

Walmart’s other efforts to grow its e-commerce presence include the acquisition of specialty online retailers. Most recently, the company closed on deal March 17 with ModCloth, a clothing and accessory store targeting women 18 to 35 years old. Walmart also bought omnichannel outdoor goods retailer Moosejaw in February. Jet, through its parent company, bought Shoebuy in January.

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