Walmart plans to hire 2,000 data scientists, engineers and other technology professionals this year, trailing only Amazon in announced hiring plans tied to tech.
Most of the hiring is expected to benefit the retailer’s digital grocery business, which increasingly incorporates technology and automation to increase speed, reduce costs and improve convenience, according to a report in Arkansas Online. Walmart just announced a robot-picking online grocery initiative that sees automated gadgets ferrying stockroom products to human store personnel, eliminating much of the labor involved with building customer orders.
Already one of the largest IT spenders worldwide with $10 billion outlaid annually, Walmart has accelerated its digital investments in recent years in a classic game of catch-up with e-commerce behemoth Amazon, whose digital prowess has created seismic shifts in the retail landscape.
“The way that the spend has changed is that we are focused on how to use it to drive our competitive advantage,” Walmart CIO Clay Johnson told the Economic Times of India (ET). “We don’t just want to be the largest technology spender. We want to make sure that we are spending it on the right technology.”
A majority of the new tech jobs will be based in Walmart’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, while the remainder will be spread across offices in the Bay Area cities of San Bruno and Sunnyvale; the Washington, D.C. suburb of Reston, Va.; and Indian high-tech hub Bengaluru. The world’s largest retailer already employs roughly 6,000 technologists in its Walmart Labs group, which focuses on innovation and new technology.
Meanwhile, according to ET, Walmart said it plans to increase its current 1,800 tech headcount in the country by 1,000. Walmart’s Indian tech partners are credited with building much of the retailer’s Internet of Things innovations found through its store fleet.
The hiring news comes as Walmart’s forged a partnership to use Microsoft’s cloud and other services to accelerate its enterprise-side digital transformation in an effort to move quickly on new opportunities.