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Walmart Unveils 'Store No. 8' Tech Incubator In Silicon Valley (bloomberg.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is creating a technology-startup incubator in Silicon Valley to identify changes that will reshape the retail experience, including virtual reality, autonomous vehicle and drone delivery and personalized shopping. The incubator will be called Store No. 8, a reference to a Wal-Mart location where the company experimented with new store layouts. Marc Lore, chief executive officer of Wal-Mart's e-commerce operations, announced the incubator Monday at the ShopTalk conference in Las Vegas. The world's biggest retailer has been overhauling its online team to better challenge Amazon.com Inc. with greater selection and lower prices. Lore founded Jet.com, which Wal-Mart purchased in September for about $3.3 billion in pursuit of Amazon in the e-commerce race. Lore said Wal-Mart has an advantage over "pure play" e-commerce companies because of its large network of stores that attract shoppers for such items as fresh food. The incubator will partner with startups, venture capitalists and academics to promote innovation in robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence, according to Wal-Mart. The goal is to have a fast-moving, separate entity to identify emerging technologies that can be developed and used across Wal-Mart.
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Walmart Unveils 'Store No. 8' Tech Incubator In Silicon Valley

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  • Because I've shopped at the various brick-and-mortar stores, known people that have worked in the various brick-and-mortar stores, and basically I'm not going to shop at Walmart. They treat their employees badly, treat their suppliers badly and force quality down in the name of price, and as a result it's a shitshow going into their stores.

    I see no reason to reward Walmart with my business. I'm OK with being in the minority on this, but either way, I'll spend the extra dollar and not have that experience.

    • Me, I like the low prices.

      If you want to spend your extra dollar, maybe give it to a charity?

      • Except that for most things you spend more when you buy at walmart because the quality is much lower. The Levi jeans you buy at walmart (or almost any other name brand product) is not the same as the levis you buy at say jc penny. They look the same but the quality is actually much lower and so they don't last as long. That's how they sell things cheaper than other stores. They get companies to make and sell them an inferior version of their product for less money. Go search for the article on the guy who
        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          Ok let's say you buy a pair of jeans. Levis "Signature" is $17 at Walmart, cheapest Levis at JC Penney is $46 (I checked). So you can get through 3 pairs of Walmart jeans before you get to the JC Penney price. And while the Walmart ones are lower quality, they're still jeans, they do the job.

          And when it's time to buy more, the price at Walmart will have gone down to $15.75 or something like that while it will be like $53 at JC Penney.

          • by cb88 ( 1410145 )
            $39 online... at JCP.... stores like that work of sales and coupons so you can probably get them for the same price as Walmart if you watch. Annoying but yeah.. there are pros and cons. And frankly I don't support JCPenny's recent liberal agenda... JCP used to be the Chik-Fil-A of department stores... until Mr Penny died years ago, and shareholders turned it into a race for the buck instead of actually standing for something.

            You can do more business in 5 or 6 days with a visionary and all around good guy a
        • Except that for most things you spend more when you buy at walmart because the quality is much lower.

          And this is a problem because? Sometimes you want something cheap. Sometimes you don't. I buy the shows I go to the office at walmart for less than $20. Cheap pair of docker and polo shirt knock offs (or from Target) and voila, business casual for an industry (software) that doesn't typically give a shit about what you wear.

          Now, for running shoes, a nice pair of trekking sandals, or for dress shoes to go with my business suites (when I have to be formal) I spent a lot more on that.

          Additionally, some pe

      • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @11:56PM (#54086177)

        Me, I like the low prices.

        If you want to spend your extra dollar, maybe give it to a charity?

        Even if you aren't after low prices, GP's argument, while a popular sentiment, is also false.

        http://www.pbs.org/newshour/ma... [pbs.org]

        TL;DR: Walmart (and other big box retailers) actually do pay higher wages to the line workers than typical mom and pop stores. Furthermore, unlike mom and pop shops, there are actually opportunities for promotion at a walmart. A typical general manager at walmart sits in the $100k/year range, and the lower level store managers aren't much lower. At a mom and pop retailer however, you'd be lucky if you made it anywhere past being a cashier or stocking shelves. Why? Because most family owned businesses typically assign valuable positions only to family members.

        As for GP's comment about Walmart treating suppliers bad, without knowing the specifics, I have a feeling that GP is talking about how Walmart has always lead the way in terms of making its supply chain more efficient, something that started with the barcode:

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/... [pbs.org]

        And of course, remember how during the 90's, video games (especially PC games) came in boxes the size of a cereal box, but were mostly empty? Walmart alone changed that by establishing packaging requirements in order for a supplier to be allowed to put anything on their shelves. And yeah, you're damn right the supplier will hate it because they can't make their product bigger and more eye catching than their competitors, however in terms of being less environmentally wasteful, and ultimately reducing costs to the consumer, it totally made sense.

        Saving money isn't bad, and in many cases it means you're being more efficient and more practical.

    • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:30PM (#54085429)

      ... force quality down in the name of price ...

      Technically that is we the consumers that are doing that. Offshoring, low quality, etc ... those are not CEO choices, those are consumer choices. When presented with two products, one domestically produced, higher quality and higher priced, and the other produced overseas, lower quality and lower priced, we the consumer overwhelmingly choose the lower priced. We reward the supplier that offshores and reduces quality. If we consumers showed a preference for local goods and/or higher quality goods that is what Walmart would stock the shelves with. They stock what sells, we decide what sells.

      • I beg to differ. I have never seen any attempt to market products this way. When I go to the Apple store, they don't sell an iPhone made at Foxconn and an iPhone made in the US. It doesn't happen with any product.
        • I beg to differ. I have never seen any attempt to market products this way. When I go to the Apple store, they don't sell an iPhone made at Foxconn and an iPhone made in the US. It doesn't happen with any product.

          We are talking about Walmart not Apple, a retailer not a supplier that happens to have a boutique retail store. I believe I can find US made goods like a MagLite flashlight, a Nalgene water bottle, a Leatherman multitool, a Lodge skillet, etc at Walmart.

          We are also talking about a current situation that is the result of consumer behavior that has been going on for 40 to 50 years. And now with online shopping it is easier to find US made goods than in recent years.

          If consumers wanted to demonstrate a p

          • If consumers wanted to demonstrate a preference for local products they have options. Such a trend would be recognized. That is why you find various "greener" products at the grocery store nowadays, consumers started voting with their dollars and stores responded.

            By this, are you referring to organic produce? And by greener, are you referring to environmentalism?

            If so, you're basically being sold the scam of the century, and being suckered hook, line, and sinker. And in fact, stores like whole foods, which have picked up popularity as of late, are the grocery store scam of the century. The first giveaway should be the fact that they sell homeopathic medicine, but if you look at their ban list, it's basically nonsensical. For example, they ban monosodium-glutamate wh

            • What percentage of products are greenwashing and what percentage are effective and less troublesome for people and/or the environment I don't know. However that doesn't matter to my point, which is that people demonstrated a willingness to buy something using a metric other than the lowest price and manufacturers and retailers respond. It worked for "green". It could work for "domestic/local".
              • What percentage of products are greenwashing and what percentage are effective and less troublesome for people and/or the environment I don't know. However that doesn't matter to my point, which is that people demonstrated a willingness to buy something using a metric other than the lowest price and manufacturers and retailers respond. It worked for "green". It could work for "domestic/local".

                This has never not been the case, neither for green nor domestic/local nor any other value-add category you can name. Never, at any point in time, has the competitor with the lowest price always won. This has remained true even in the case of the worst economic periods in history.

                Granted, there is the concept of inferior goods (inferior goods are defined as those that rise in demand when the economy is going through a rough period, and fall in demand when the economy does well; ramen noodles are an example

                • I'm not sure you are getting my point. My point is that consumers demonstrated a preference for something, a consideration other than the lowest price. Manufacturers responded with products matching that consumer consideration. Consumers need to make domestic/local production one such consideration. As consumers rewarded companies that offshored, they can reverse their behavior and reward companies that produce domestically. Manufacturers will respond.
                  • My point is that consumers demonstrated a preference for something, a consideration other than the lowest price.

                    And my point is that this is nothing new. You're talking/implying as though people didn't do this in the past and are now suddenly doing it, which is very much incorrect. As I stated previously: There has never been any point in history where the competitor with the lowest price always wins. It's just straight up never happened.

                    I know Bernie (and his fan base) and some socialists love to talk about capitalism being a race to the bottom, but it's all a load of crap spewed by people who fundamentally don't un

                    • Businesses don't get to decide if they compete on value or price. Consumers make that choice for them. Business follows where consumers lead them.

                      The point you are missing is that US consumers now consider environmental impact a value, for at least five decades they have not considered domestic/local manufacture a value. That can change, domestic/local could become a value in the mind of the consumer. This conversation is not about if some value exits, it is about the specific value of domestic/local man
          • Walmart doesn't manufacture products. Walmart can't sell you an American made version of a Samsung TV if Samsung doesn't make them!
            • Walmart doesn't manufacture products. Walmart can't sell you an American made version of a Samsung TV if Samsung doesn't make them!

              That does not change the fact that when consumers do have a choice they generally choose low cost import.

              Nor does it change the fact that 45 years ago consumers did have a choice in TVs and chose the cheap import. Again, we're talking about a trend that has been at work for at least 50 years.

              • Sure, people will buy the cheapest thing if there is no compelling reason to buy the more expensive thing. That is how capitalism is designed. Consumers look for the best deal and corporations try to spend as much money as possible. It is up to the government to strike a balance between the two. What needs to be done is to convince people 'buying local' is a compelling reason on its own. The government has not been successful at doing that.
                • Sure, people will buy the cheapest thing if there is no compelling reason to buy the more expensive thing. That is how capitalism is designed. Consumers look for the best deal and corporations try to spend as much money as possible. It is up to the government to strike a balance between the two. What needs to be done is to convince people 'buying local' is a compelling reason on its own. The government has not been successful at doing that.

                  Actually no. It's not just capitalism. It is culture. Travel the world. Go to Germany. Italy, and the best example of all, Japan. People buy less, but when they buy, they tend to buy quality (and typically home-made.) They just don't buy cheap made abroad nilly willy unless there is a specific intent or when practical.

                  What is happening, and I keep referring to this, is that we are a rich country of really poor people who see themselves (quite realistically) at the bottom of a barrel. Struggling to make en

                  • But the problem is quality is an illusion. If more expensive things really had higher quality than they should at least have longer warranties. But no matter how much you pay, the manufacturer will dump you after a year. The emphasis is on buying a new product to replace the old one, not keep the old one going. Look at all the pain people feel over being *forbidden* from fixing their own devices. If manufacturers want us to buy the higher quality 'thing', then they are definitely sending the wrong mess
                • Sure, people will buy the cheapest thing if there is no compelling reason to buy the more expensive thing.

                  The compelling reason is their own economic security, their job prospects. As the other poster refers to, in other countries the people better understand this and do have a bias towards domestic goods. It is something they consider. The problem is we don't. In the 1970s there was a popular bumper sticker, "Save a Job, Buy American". Back then people couldn't imagine the offshoring that would come. Now people should have a better appreciation of this phrase. The people in the other countries have often had t

        • I beg to differ. I have never seen any attempt to market products this way. When I go to the Apple store, they don't sell an iPhone made at Foxconn and an iPhone made in the US. It doesn't happen with any product.

          Furthermore, GP seems to imply that domestically produced and/or pricier goods are always superior, which is quite a false impression. Lean manufacturing is a real thing, and in a nutshell it means reducing the number of manual steps in production, which not only lowers cost (and therefore, price) but results in a more consistent, lower defect, and thus higher quality, product.

          If you know anything at all about engineering, you'd know this to be true.

          And as far as domestic vs foreign...a perfect example of w

          • That's the point I'm trying to get at. Don't expect me to buy a Samsung phone that I have used in the past and am familiar with, or an American phone made by 'Brand X' which may wear out in a year. Actually market a like for like product, one that is made in the US and one that is made somewhere else.
      • Technically that is we the consumers that are doing that. Offshoring, low quality, etc ... those are not CEO choices, those are consumer choices.

        Call me cynical, but I keep going back to the MIB quote: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." Consumers as a mass of people don't make "choices." In big groups, we behave more like a herd. A stampeding herd of cows doesn't "choose" to run off a cliff, the collective is dumber than any individual. It's up to the ranchers to make decisions for the good of the cows.

        ... not that I expect CEOs to actually make decisions for the good of society unless they're forced t

      • to blame the working class. Americans shop on price because we're desperately trying to maintain our standard of living in the face of declining wages. Those wages are declining because of globalization and automation. Both of those started in the 60s after communism was neutralized as a threat (real communism, not the phone crap Mao & Stalin pushed).

        Walmart's slogan nails it: You're not destroying Unions and plunging the country into the worst income inequality since WWI; you're saving money, livin
        • You're oversimplifying a complex issue to blame the working class. Americans shop on price because we're desperately trying to maintain our standard of living in the face of declining wages. Those wages are declining because of globalization and automation.

          Globalization is in part a result of the consumer's willingness to consider price above any other consideration. The consumer drives the offshoring process through their choices, their "tragedy of the commons" logic. CEOs may be greedy but it is sales that satisfy their greed, and it is consumers who decide whether offshoring improves or hurts sales.

          Walmart's slogan nails it: You're not destroying Unions and plunging the country into the worst income inequality since WWI; you're saving money, living better.

          The thing is Walmart is not creating that behavior, they are capitalizing on that pre-existing behavior, they leverage the pre-existing behavior.

      • by Threni ( 635302 )

        Poor(er) people think that way. If you're rich, you have the luxury of getting what you want, and not having to have the cheaper stuff; of not having to choose between a good product or a good holiday/eating out more/clothing and feeding your kids. Poorer people don't have that choice. And it's not as if the elite/rich people are doing all they can to lift poor people out of poverty. I'd not blame "consumers" for trying to stretch their money as far as possible.

        • Poor(er) people think that way. If you're rich, you have the luxury of getting what you want, and not having to have the cheaper stuff; of not having to choose between a good product or a good holiday/eating out more/clothing and feeding your kids. Poorer people don't have that choice. And it's not as if the elite/rich people are doing all they can to lift poor people out of poverty. I'd not blame "consumers" for trying to stretch their money as far as possible.

          That the impoverished have a more valid reason does not change the fact that businesses that go the offshoring route are rewarded by consumers, that consumers drive offshoring process.

          Also this was largely driven by the middle class, as most things are. Keep in mind that this trend started long ago when it was far more likely for a HS educated person to find a job that offered a living wage.

      • by sodul ( 833177 )

        I'm not sure I agree with the, mostly accepted, idea that offshore == lower quality. The car analogy would be Toyota vs the american manufacturers. Toyota managed to build cars in Japan, at much, much higher quality than Detroy could and then sell them for cheaper. South Korea was a little behind Japan on quality but is pretty much on par now. Of course things are not 100% perfect with exploding phones and bad airbags but I would say the quality is still on par, if not better, than the western counterparts.

        • Sure, there are always exceptions. And the good side of globalization is bringing in high quality or specialized/new goods that are not normally available. However over the last 50 years a huge amount of low quality imports have displaced higher quality domestics and that was due to consumer based decisions.

          I want to stress that I am referring to a 50 year process, not just today's situation. Although the trend continues, and more importantly the trend is reversible IFF consumers show a preference for do
    • Walmart was shape-shifted by the likes of you and me.

      We want something for nothing and we don't give a real fuck about consequences.

      No, we only think of ourselves.

    • so you're saying they are like Amazon?

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      By using US tech to find cheaper production lines in Indonesia, Laos rather than staying with the rising costs in China?
    • I see no reason to reward Walmart with my business.

      "Reward" them? Is that how you see yourself, the belle of the ball that all retailers should bend over backward to please just so they can "deserve" your benevolent purchase of low-quality chinese dishware and apparel?

      Buying and selling are two sides of a shared transaction. Neither side is "rewarding" the other. If you don't want to do business with Walmart, go somewhere else to buy your toilet paper for a little more. They're not going to go bankrupt over your boycott or over the strongly worded Facebook

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      Because I've shopped at the various brick-and-mortar stores, known people that have worked in the various brick-and-mortar stores

      Do you really believe that the people who work a Amazon have it any better than the people who work at Walmart?

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:20PM (#54085387)
    Before you laugh, some history ... Walmart is/was a tech leader, they pioneered digitizing and automating the supply chain (orders, payments, etc) and inventory management (what, where, etc) back in the 1970s. They were also mining "big data" back then (more what and where - hurricane warning in gulf, move pop tarts from midwest distribution centers to gulf stores). Opening their "big data" is how they got suppliers to buy into their digital supply chain. Suppliers got to see their product sale at national, regional and even store levels with 15min granularity. All the cash registers reported to a store's minicomputer which then connected by satellite to headquarters to report sales.
    • agreed. Walmart will lead if it wants. it has the cash. it has the real estate. it has political power.
  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @07:33PM (#54085443)

    ... is that Amazon won.

  • When did silicon valley define "innovative" to mean "Almost as boring as the same old shit"?

    This jet.com for example appears to be amazon as it has existed since 1998 [nytimes.com], except prices are going to be even harder to figure out [wikipedia.org]. Oops, I'm sorry, I mean "ALGORITHMS! MAGIC! "LOWER" PRICES!"

    When you say "innovative" I think new like the first iphone after I had a fliphone, or like CRISPR DNA editing. Tech bros say innovation though and mean "This iphone doesn't have headphone plugs!"

    Walmart pretending to

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