Walmart shuttering Store No. 8 innovation hub

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Walmart is closing down Store No. 8, which developed initiatives such as 'Walmart Land' on Roblox.

Walmart Inc. is closing down its in-house Store No. 8 technology incubator and lab, the company has confirmed.

"Store No. 8 was an important early step forward into tech-powered customer solutions which led to innovations that have transformed how customers shop at Walmart," a Walmart spokesperson said in an email to Chain Store Age. "Since that time, we’ve stood up our global technology, product and design organizations that work alongside the business to innovate with speed – and the responsibility to shape the future of retail is now shared across the company."

Store No. 8 opened in late 2017 with a mission to find innovative solutions that could be applied to business operations over the next three-to-five years via partnerships as well as tech entrepreneurs recruited to join its staff.

“We’ve graduated capabilities from this operating approach that are now fully embedded in our organization,” Walmart CFO John Rainey said in an internal corporate memo seen by the Wall Street Journal. "The responsibility to shape the future of retail is now shared by all segments.”

Scott Eckert, senior VP of next-generation retail and Store No. 8 at Walmart, is reportedly leaving the company. There is no immediate word on whether other employees of the incubator will be laid off or offered other positions within Walmart.

Recent next-generation technology efforts at Walmart that were spearheaded by Store No 8 include its metaverse commerce initiative, which it recently expanded with APIs for the Unity real-time 3D development environment and launched in September 2022 with immersive experiences on the Roblox virtual gaming platform.

In addition, Store No 8 served as a development platform for innovation projects such as text-to-shop and the “Intelligent Retail Lab” (IRL) it opened at a Neighborhood Market location in Levittown, N.Y. in 2019 to perform live-testing of varied AI-based technologies.

Although Walmart reported earnings and revenue in its most recently quarter that topped expectations with growth across all segments and raised its annual outlook, the increase came in slightly below what analysts were expecting. On the company’s earnings call, executives noted that prices for select grocery items have fallen, along with general merchandise prices, and that it may be facing a deflationary period that will pressure its unit prices.

Read more from MarketWatch here.

Headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates approximately 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites in 19 countries.

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