- Walmart Labs, a major tech arm of the retail giant, on Thursday said that it will expand its team in Reston, Virginia, in the Washington, D.C., metro area.
- The unit is also hiring elsewhere in the country including in San Diego, at its Silicon Valley tech headquarters in San Bruno, California, and at its Bentonville, Arkansas, headquarters, according to an email from a spokesperson to Retail Dive. Earlier this year, the company worked to add 150 new employees in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Walmart Labs has developed several of the retail giant’s recent e-commerce innovations, including the relaunch of Walmart.com, efforts out of its Store No. 8 incubator and various other “customer-facing technology both in-stores and online,” the spokesperson said.
Walmart may want to increase the size of its tech operations closest to one of Amazon's most likely HQ2 sites (an announcement eagerly awaited by the 20 finalist cities being considered), but the expansion of its Walmart Labs offices on the East Coast also brings it closer to its New Jersey Jet operations.
Walmart has been a tech innovator since the beginning; its early adoption of computers is widely credited for innovations in its supply chain decades ago, something that has helped make it the most efficient distributor of goods in the world.
Walmart has also run innovation labs in Silicon Valley for years. But the retail giant didn't really move the needle on e-commerce sales until its 2016 purchase of Jet.com and the arrival of Jet founder Marc Lore. Indeed, Lore has brought a fresh mindset to Walmart, making swift change possible despite the retailer's position as a stolid stalwart of traditional retail, according to Greg Portell, lead partner in the retail practice of global strategy and management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, who spoke to Retail Dive last year about his efforts.
While Walmart appears to be on something of a hiring binge for its Walmart Labs subsidiary, earlier this year the company said it plans to cut more than 1,000 corporate jobs and close 63 Sam’s Club stores. About a year ago, Walmart also announced its most scaled back brick-and-mortar growth in the U.S. in some 15 years, saying it would open 280 net new stores globally, with a focus on Mexico and China. In the U.S. that includes plans for 15 Supercenters and fewer than 10 of its smaller Neighborhood Market stores.