Walmart is one aggressive retail company that does not intend on being another Montgomery Wards or Sears, but instead, wants to keep on the leading edge of technology – so much so, they launched Store No. 8 in Silicon Valley. They want it to be far away from Bentonville, Arkansas to allow its employees to bring Walmart into the 21st century and beyond, ready to do battle with the likes of Amazon.com. They call it an incubator as it will house new tech startups, owned by Walmart, but will have free rein to come up with retail tech ideas to inspire and expand its e-commerce. This project will all be done under the watchful eye of Marc Lore, who started Jet.com, which was purchased by Walmart last year for $3 billion.
Walmart has not exactly been sitting on its hands when it comes to being innovative, and their e-commerce rose almost 30-percent during the holidays. In the last two months, they have purchased three online companies – ModCloth, ShoeBuy, and Moosejaw – to expand their selection of online merchandise. In June 2016, Walmart Pay was spreading across the United States as well as their QR-code based payment method. They bypassed using NFC so that almost all customers could take advantage of paying via the QR-code method. It only works in Walmart stores, but with such a big base of customers, they expect it to do quite well. In January 2017, Walmart introduced their new Scan & Go app to allow customers to buy anything at the store and never have to stand in line to pay for their merchandise. Although just being tested, they hope to eventually expand the service – you just use your cellphone’s camera to capture the barcode on the items that you want, and after totaling up your bill, you can pay from the app, and be on your way.
Target also realizes that it must change its way of doing things if they expect to compete with all of the online purchases. They abandoned its “Store of the Future” because Target CEO Brian Cornell said he wants to make sure that “all of our innovation dollars are providing benefits in the near term," so they partnered with Techstars, another incubator-style company. Seth Beal from Walmart is the executive leading the Store No 8 initiative along with Katie Finnegan from Jet.com knowing that not every idea may be something they can use right now, but possibly in the future. They will give the entrepreneurs as much freedom as possible, but Beal said that they would regularly check on them to make sure they don’t “geek out too much.”