Walmart has hired Scott Eckert to run its investment arm and startup incubator, Store No. 8, according to an internal memo from Marc Lore, the retailer's head of e-commerce on Monday, and obtained by Reuters. Eckert is a former executive of Bain Capital Ventures, where he evaluated potential new investments and advised CEOs about existing portfolio companies as executive in residence. He will take over from Lori Flees, who ran Store No. 8 and worked as senior vice president of health and wellness at Walmart-owned Sam’s Club. Flees will now focus on her role at Sam’s Club.
“I’m excited to welcome Scott Eckert to Walmart as senior vice president, next generation retail and principal, Store No. 8," the memo said. "Scott’s background as a global technology executive and entrepreneur make him a perfect fit to lead Store No. 8 and its mission of incubating technologies that can transform the future of retail."
Total Retail's Take: This is exciting news for Store No. 8, as it appears Walmart will be focusing more of its time and energy on the division. Store No. 8, which is based in California’s Silicon Valley, was launched in 2017 by Lore, who joined Walmart in 2016 when the retailer bought his startup, Jet.com. Store No. 8 works with startups that specialize in areas such as robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence. It has launched several startups, including JetBlack, a same-day delivery service where customers can place orders using a text message; Spatial&, a virtual reality merchandising company Walmart acquired in 2018; and Project Kepler, designed to compete with Amazon Go. It will be interesting to see where Eckert takes Store No. 8. We'll be watching closely to see which technologies it invests in, as they will undoubtedly cause a ripple effect across the retail industry.