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03/21/2017

Walmart launches Store No. 8 — but it’s not really a store

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The nation’s largest retailer is delving deeper into e-commerce and evolving technology with its newest investment.



Walmart has formed Store No. 8, a technology incubator that will be based in the Silicon Valley. (The new initiative is named after an early Walmart store that company founder Sam Walton used to try out new retail strategies.)



The new venture is being spearheaded by Marc Lore, Wal-Mart's e-commerce head, who joined the retailer after it acquired his company, Jet.com, last August. Speaking at the Shoptalk conference in Las Vegas, Lore said Store No. 8 will work with startups that specialize in areas that include robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence.



Store No. 8 will headed up by Seth Beal, previously senior VP for global marketplace and digital store operations at Walmart and Jet's Katie Finnegan. It will be charged with identifying emerging technologies that could prove useful, and also help create new start-ups, according to The New York Times. It will also strike strategic partnerships with other promising young e-commerce companies.



Speaking at Shoptalk, Lore said Wal-Mart has an advantage over pure-play online retailers due to its large network of stores that attract shoppers for such items as fresh food.



"Every day, I become more and more convinced about the omnichannel advantage," Lore said.