Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer, is gearing up to bring on 2,000 technology professionals during 2019 to support its operations in stores and online.
Bloomberg, citing comments Walmart CTO Jeremy King made in a Bloomberg TV interview, said the hiring would increase the retailer’s IT staff by more than one fourth. Currently, there are around 7,500 IT experts. In 2018 the retailer hired 1,700, noted Bloomberg. Walmart is bringing on the staff to aid its efforts to expand its eCommerce business as well as to equip its stores with advanced technologies including robots and shelf-scanning technology. It comes as Walmart is locked in a battle with Amazon and has been able to steal some customers from its number one rival. Some of the digital tools the IT professionals are expected to support include advanced algorithms that speed up online ordering and mapping the route through the store. It also has a curbside grocery pickup service, which Bloomberg noted is already in 2,100 stores and is expected to expand to an additional 1,000 in 2019.
One example of new technology Walmart is testing is the ability for customers to take a photo of a piece of furniture they like and then use a mobile app to search Hayneedle.com for a similar product. The piece of furniture could be in someone’s home, retail showroom or a page in a magazine. It also recently talked up the idea of delivery right into a customer’s refrigerator as the future of food delivery. In a scenario laid out in a recent interview with CNBC, Marc Lore, president and CEO of the eCommerce business in the U.S., said customers would get a one-time code when they order, and a delivery person “with a camera on their chest” would come in and put food in a person’s fridge.
In addition to battling Amazon in retail, it will now be in a fight for top IT talent in Sunnyvale, California and Northern Virginia, where Walmart has a small tech team. Amazon has named Arlington, Virginia as one of its homes for its second headquarters.