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Walmart Labs on tech hiring binge

Friday, May 4th, 2018

Following news that Walmart plans to cut more than 1,000 corporate jobs and close 64 Sam’s Club stores, it is now on a hiring binge for its Walmart Labs subsidiary. The careers page of the Walmart Labs website currently lists hundreds of job openings, mostly in California and Arkansas, but also in other locations.

While the new jobs don’t add up to the number eliminated, it is becoming apparent that Walmart is trading corporate jobs for technology and engineering positions. In doing so, it is in step with an industry-wide trend reported in a study by LinkedIn which showed the number of people identifying as retail associates in their profiles is down while software developer is the fastest growing job in retail. Among other chains, Walgreens has said it is adding 300 tech jobs in the Chicago area, and Home Depot is planning to add more than 1,000 more technology employees this year.

In Bentonville, Walmart is planning a new corporate campus, which won’t be ready for five to seven years. The new campus is meant to provide "accommodations for a more digitally native workforce and space that encourages greater collaboration and speed” compared to the existing patchwork of offices, Walmart chief executive officer Doug McMillon said in a blog post last September.

The retailer’s technology initiatives are already bearing fruit, and in one case, literally. Walmart has developed a produce inspection technology called Eden to track freshness, and also will use drones flying over farms to monitor temperatures and other factors. There was speculation that the company might enter the farming business after it applied for a number of drone patents that would be used to automate farming. With two other patent applications, Walmart indicated that it means to broaden the use of blockchain technology beyond cyber currency and into behavior monitoring, vendor payments and digital shopping.

 

Walmart is testing a program in lawn and garden centers of 350 stores that provides associates with mobile point-of-sale technology so shoppers can checkout and pay for purchases in the departments. The company recently launched a revamped mobile app with features like Store Assistant which includes a barcode scanner, product search bar, customer reviews and Walmart Pay.

Walmart Labs now has about 2,000 employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Mercury News reported. The company expects to add software engineers, back-end technologies experts, data scientists, product managers, mobile developers, systems engineers, artificial intelligence experts, cloud engineers and data science experts this year. “As the retail industry transforms, so does Walmart,” Blair Bennett, vice president of Walmart Talent Acquisition told the newspaper. “In stores, online, through mobile devices, voice, pickup options and delivery services, Walmart Labs is really here to power our entire customer journey.”

 


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