Walmart Labs: Our Journey to Change the Way the World Shops

I joined Walmart in 2011 after having spent 7 years at eBay followed by 3 years at a startup (LiveOps). At the time, Walmart was operating a relatively small office in the Valley despite having launched Walmart.com in 2000. To keep up with the drastic tech changes occurring in eCommerce, we needed to move faster.

The Inception of Walmart Labs

Walmart Labs was originally created following a 60+ person acquisition — as a technical innovation lab, based in the Valley, to build and test new technology for Walmart.com. Having just left my role at LiveOps I recognized the value of maintaining that startup mentality at Walmart — but, we needed to go bigger.

Walmart Labs had been focused on getting Walmart.com to a place of operational efficiency — rebuilding the search engine, focusing on social / local / mobile (SoLoMo — anyone remember this?!), and building a new platform. We achieved a lot, but in order to give Walmart customers what they wanted, we needed to get even more aggressive.

Building a New Future

Since 1962 Walmart has been dedicated to helping customers save money so they can live better. While how we deliver on that promise evolves, why we do it stays the same. In 2015, Walmart CEO, Doug McMillion, communicated that Walmart was going to adjust our how. We needed to diligently focus on our omni-channel strategy so that we could give customers a consistent experience, regardless of the channel.

Although we are a retail company, our leadership recognizes technology as the second most critical enabler (our associates being the first) in helping us achieve success. Based on this strategy, we’ve expanded Walmart Labs to include Walmart eCommerce and store technology teams. Today, we are more focused than ever on using technology, data, and design to:

  1. Create the world’s leading retail platform to enable the most seamless customer experience

2. Increase our operating efficiencies while decreasing enterprise expenses

3. Ensuring that store and corporate associates have access to secure digital solutions that empower them to excel at their jobs

Our Teams

Here are more specifics about the teams at Walmart Labs and what we’re working on:

Customer Technology: Our Customer Technology team serves our customer throughout their shopping journey, no matter how one choses to shop Walmart — in stores, on a mobile device, online, or even through voice. From the moment a customer decides to shop with us, till they checkout either in store or digitally, we are there to provide a satisfying experience.

Merchant Technology: Merchant Technology oversees our online and in store search, pricing, catalog, content, inventory, replenishment, and fulfillment technology to provide the optimal experience for our merchants — and, ultimately the customer. We are laser-focused in enabling our merchants to for efficiently and effectively do their jobs and grow our online assortment to 3X in one year (now at 60M+ items!).

Supply Chain Technology: Our Supply Chain Technology team ensures our customers receive their orders as fast as they want and where they want in a frictionless, predictable way — all while being cost effective for Walmart’s philosophy of everyday low cost (EDLC). Our teams oversee the scalable, nimble, and flexible technology that powers our hundreds of Distribution and Fulfillment Centers and provide our thousands of drivers and partners with the tools they need to get the get the right items, on time, in the right packaging to customers.

Global Cloud: Walmart’s Cloud Computing Program — code named Strati — delivers cloud-native capabilities for Walmart globally. We automate workloads in mega cloud environments, as well as micro cloud environments, to enable innovation and provide the capabilities our business partners need. Using best-in-class vendor agnostic public, private, and hybrid cloud environments, developers are rapidly making the transition to our Application Foundation managed services to create business impacting solutions at scale.

Global Data and Analytics: Our Global Data and Analytics Platform team ensures that Walmart’s decisions are data-driven, smarter, faster, and highly-automated. Our team delivers four core capabilities — analytics and visualization, algorithmic products, machine learning technology, and data foundations.

Business Engagement & Strategy: Our Business Engagement and Strategy team oversees the end-to-end delivery of the Walmart Labs technology portfolio. We define the overall strategic direction, partner with the business to define and prioritize initiatives, and coordinate delivery of technology capabilities across US and India based engineering resources.

Interested?

I’ve never been more excited about the future of Walmart. If you’re reading this, I’d encourage you to take the following steps:

· Discover more of what we’re doing by visiting our newly launched and rebranded, WalmartLabs.com.

· Check out our current openings. We’re looking for software engineers, data scientists, product and program managers, and UX designers.

· Follow us on:

o Medium to hear directly from our technologists

o Twitter for meetups and company updates

o LinkedIn to connect with our technologists and hear about new opportunities

· Envision yourself working on industry-shaping projects like associate delivery, picking optimization, and catalog matching on the world’s largest scale.

If you have any questions, love to hear from you, tweet me @jeremybking.