Walmart (WMT) is trying its hand at playing the startup game in a bid to trump the increasing competition it’s facing from Amazon (AMZN).
The retailer has started @WalmartLabs, its dot-com headquarters, and has adopted the policies and practices of other Silicon Valley startups, including “treadmill workstations and foosball tables.”
But the move isn’t all fun and games (via the New York Times):
The two retail behemoths, one the king of the physical store and the other the conqueror of the online world, are battling over e-commerce — competing for the most talented engineers, trying to gain the upper hand in the new frontier of same-day delivery and warring over online pricing.
They want to control not just Internet shopping but all shopping. Even as Walmart pours money into technology, Amazon is building a physical presence across the nation, adding warehouses and pickup locations. Both companies’ moves indicate that they believe the future of commerce is not just stores and not just online but a combination of the two.
In fact, @WalmartLabs has in the last year bought four companies — Torbit, OneOps, Tasty Labs and Inkiru, all which work online reviewing and splicing data, and improve website speed and navigation.
WMT knows that to stay strong, it has to occupy some of the space that AMZN already has taken over.
The NYT reports that “Walmart.com had 62.5 million unique visitors in August, compared with Amazon’s 133 million, according to Compete, which tracks Web use.”
Slow into the online game, Walmart now faces a battle as it seeks to match Amazon’s global presence.