retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Walmart has posted a job opening on its website for “CEO, Stealth Company,” who would be responsible for “building…from scratch” and serving as “public champion” for a startup company “housed inside its technology incubator, Store No. 8.”

According to the story, one key skill being sought “is the ability to handle competitive threats and possibly ‘pivot strategy’ just in case, say, Amazon.com decides to try and crush the fledgling unit.”

Bloomberg explains that “Walmart created its incubator Store No. 8 two years ago to identify and capitalize on changes in the way people shop, by using tools such as virtual reality and self-checkout. The unit already includes several endeavors, such as Jetblack, a concierge shopping service for upscale city dwellers; Spatialand, a virtual-reality software maker acquired in 2018; Project Kepler, a push to compete with Amazon’s cashierless Go stores; and Project Franklin, which is still in stealth mode after hiring a Google veteran as its CEO year ago.”

The “Store No. 8” name is “a reference to a Walmart location where co-founder Sam Walton tried out new concepts. It’s the brainchild of Marc Lore, who joined Walmart in 2016 when he sold his own startup, Jet.com, to the Arkansas retailer for $3.3 billion. The goal is to have a fast-moving, separate entity based in the heart of Silicon Valley that pinpoints emerging technologies that can potentially be used across Walmart.”
KC's View:
Further evidence - that we needed any - of Walmart’s new nimbleness and ambition. I’ve had more than a few people who are smart about this stuff tell me that they feel that right now, Walmart is the most innovative traditional retailer out there, because it seems perfectly willing to do what CEO Doug McMillon said it would - ““We will test a lot, fail a lot.”