Walmart is developing its own incubator to ramp up its digital presence.
The retailer’s latest effort toward greater e-commerce dominance involved tapping a Jet executive to develop Store No. 8, an internal investment arm for new online retail businesses, The New York Times reported.
Although Walmart, which has a market value of $213 billion, has its own internal research lab, @walmartlabs, which develops new e-commerce applications for its website, Store No. 8 is Walmart’s first investment arm.
Store No. 8 was named after an early Walmart store built in an old bottling plant. Walmart founder Sam Walton would use the facility to try out new retail strategies, which is why this served as an inspiration for the retailer’s new internal venture.
With Store No. 8, Walmart will build relationships with entrepreneurs from artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles and other new technology fields. Like corporate ventures at other companies, Store No. 8 will work with emerging technologies that could advance Walmart’s e-commerce business. The venture will also help create new startups and form collaborations with up-and-coming e-commerce companies.
“We knew we needed to keep investing in the future of retail,” Store No. 8 principal Seth Beal said. “We’re making sure that we make the right short-term decisions but don’t neglect the long term.”
Beal was previously Walmart’s SVP for global marketplace and digital store operations. To helm Store No. 8, Beal will be joined by Katie Finnegan, Walmart Global eCommerce’s VP of Incubation. Finnegan, who has held many corporate leadership roles, previously led Jet’s Corporate Development arm and managed the company’s investor relations.
Walmart’s incubator launch follows the retailer’s other recent e-commerce efforts.
Last week, Walmart bought trendy e-tailer ModCloth for its Jet.com subsidiary. As a leader in the online apparel sector, ModCloth conducted product expansions, including plus-size fashions, children’s wear collaborations and private label lines. The e-tailer could boost Walmart’s digital fashion footprint and allow the retailer to reach more consumers.
In August, Walmart acquired e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3 billion. The acquisition, which closed at the end of last year, helped Walmart accelerate its online marketplace and improve its app, site and stores to better serve its consumers.
Although Amazon remains the e-commerce monarch, Walmart could be advancing with its Store No. 8 development over the next few years.