- Walmart plans to close its technology and business innovation unit, Store No. 8, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday, citing an internal memo. Some of the unit’s innovations include Walmart’s in-home delivery service and text and voice shopping.
- Since its founding seven years ago, about 300 people have moved on from Store No. 8 to other internal jobs. The responsibility of developing future innovations will be shared by everyone, Chief Financial Officer John David Rainey said, according to the memo.
- As a result of Store No. 8’s closure, Scott Eckert, a senior vice president who had led the business unit since June 2019, according to his LinkedIn, will leave the company, the WSJ also reported.
Walmart announced the launch of Store No. 8 in 2017. The unit was created to help the company compete with Amazon.
The unit focused on health and wellness; sustainability and the circular economy; social commerce and the creator economy; the metaverse; customer experience and loyalty; and decentralized commerce.
“Store No8 was an important early step forward into tech-powered customer solutions which led to innovations that have transformed how customers shop at Walmart,” a company spokesperson said in an emailed statement to sister site Retail Dive. “When we stood up Store No8, it was the right decision at that time. Since that time, we’ve stood up 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 provided time and space to incubate startups that would enable the company to stay ahead of customer and market trends. The projects operated as self-contained startups with access to Walmart’s enterprise scale, the company said on its website.
Walmart has worked in recent years to identify and embrace new revenue streams and by leading the charge to adopt strategies leveraged by rivals like Amazon and Target, analysts told Retail Dive in September.
The decision to close Store No. 8 comes ahead of Walmart’s fourth quarter and year-end earnings call. Throughout last year, Walmart fared better than many other retailers, posting Q3 global revenue up 5.2% to $160.8 billion from the previous year. But Rainey said in November that customers continued to show “ongoing discretion” in spending.
In addition to Eckert, Walmart also said Denise Malloy will leave the company, the WSJ reported. Malloy joined the retailer in April as a senior vice president and chief belonging officer, an evolution of the company’s chief diversity officer position, Malloy said in a blog announcing her appointment.