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Walmart wants you – if you’re a start-up with good ideas


Walmart is looking for innovative technology ideas – and casting a wide net to find them.

The discount retailer is launching a “Technology Open Call” aimed at retail technology start-ups. Walmart will consider technology spanning all of retail, including capabilities around the store shopping experience, associate experience, logistics, big data, security and/or social media.

“We’re looking to find a diverse group of technology companies and technologies,” said Tom Douglass, director of the Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart Lab 415C, during an interview with Chain Store Age. “We will look at things like market-readiness, scalability, strategic alignment, and side-by-side comparisons with competing solutions.”

Walmart Lab 415C is a lab-within-a-lab for testing retail technology.

“We focus on helping the customer across channels and enhancing the customer experience,” said Douglass.

The lab, founded seven years ago, has developed technologies including new scanning capabilities within the Walmart app and the first version of convertible registers in Sam’s Club and select Walmart stores. Currently, Lab 415C is working on technologies including robotics and enhanced fresh product experiences.

To further aid the lab with its efforts, the open call invites technology companies to submit a three-minute video and written overview of their company and solution by July 22, 2016. The first 250 entries will be considered and companies will be notified Aug. 1, 2016.

The open call will take place in conjunction with the 2016 Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit event, hosted by the Northwest Arkansas Technology Council on Oct. 6, 2016. Selected companies will meet with more than 100 Walmart technologists and executives, with the potential to be chosen to work with Walmart to develop their solutions.

This is the second year Walmart has run a technology open call. Competitor Target has also sponsored a similar startup competition in conjunction with accelerator Techstars. Especially for retailers like Walmart and Target which have their own in-house innovation programs, these types of contests are a great way to identify third-party technologies which can be brought in-house for refinement and customization to deliver a competitive advantage,

Solutions will be developed for proprietary Walmart use. For more information or to submit an entry click here.

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