Walmart launches tech incubator dubbed Store No. 8
By Laura Heller - Mar 22nd 2017, 15:05
Retailers have been advised to act like a startup and now the largest retailer in the world is going above and beyond. Walmart has created an incubator to internally nurture startup businesses called Store No. 8.
The initiative was announced at the Shoptalk conference today in Las Vegas by Jet.com founder and CEO of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce business. Lore was a keynote speaker at Shoptalk's inaugural event last year and just a few months later his company, Jet.com, was purchased by Walmart for more than $3 billion.
Lore and his team have been moving fast to grow digital commerce and have bought four digital startups under the Jet division, most recently ModCloth for an undisclosed sum estimated at between $50 million to $75 million.
These moves have added online commerce companies to Walmart's stable, each with a unique set of customers, attributes and strengths. The goal, Lore told Shoptalk attendees, is allow these businesses to grow and flourish under the umbrella of the world's largest retailer.
And now that retailer has an official incubator. Store No. 8 is named after an Arkansas location where Walmart founder Sam Walton was known to experiment. These businesses will run just like any other startups but "will be ring-fenced by the rest of the organisation and backed by the largest retailer in the world," Lore said.
Store No. 8 will be headed by Seth Beal, previously senior vice president for the global marketplace and digital store operations at Walmart and Jet's Katie Finnegan.
Walmart already has a research arm, @walmartlabs in San Francisco. The difference here is that Walmart will invest in these businesses like a VC and grow the group as a portfolio.
"We'll be bringing in entrepreneurs and giving them capital," said Lore. "And give them the opportunity to change the course of retail five or 10 years out."© 2017 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved
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