Walmart startup incubator Store No. 8 is working to create a shopping experience using technologies like computer vision, with the apparent aim of creating a checkout line-free business. If rolled out, the store could test the boundaries of a standard retail store, while also reducing the need for employees. Such a store would be similar to Amazon’s Amazon Go store, which the company announced a year ago but has not yet opened.
The personal-shopping service would target high-income city shoppers and allow them to get product recommendations and make purchases using text messaging. The initiative is spearheaded by new Walmart subsidiary Code Eight — which is headed up by Jennifer Fleiss of Rent the Runway.
Through the service, household products would be delivered for free within 24 hours, while other products would come within two days. Returns would be picked up at customers’ homes at no additional cost.
Following Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ acquisition of Whole Foods and Amazon’s announcement of its Amazon Go store, Walmart has been working to compete with the e-tailer’s technological advancement.
Walmart announced in August that it would team up with Google to offer its items for voice shopping via Google Assistant, and it has been buying up other properties, including ModCloth, ShoeBuy and Jet.com. The retailer has also worked to streamline its return process and improve online ads, and it has tried piloting home delivery by getting employees to drop off packages on their way home from work.