Walmart plans to hire 2,000 technology experts this year to support its efforts both in stores and online, boosting the group’s ranks by more than a fourth.
The world’s biggest retailer is looking for data scientists, software engineers, designers, and others to work in nine offices from Silicon Valley to Bangalore, Walmart Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King said in a Bloomberg Television interview. The retail technology group that King leads currently has about 7,500 employees after hiring 1,700 last year, he said.
The hiring binge will support (WMT)Walmart’s efforts to expand its online business and embed in-store technology, such as robots that scrub floors and scan shelves. It’s part of a bid to wrest market share from rivals such as Amazon. King, who joined Walmart in 2011 after working at Ebay and several startups, also oversees Walmart’s cloud-computing network and its massive databases.
Walmart’s new digital tools include algorithms that help store associates pick online orders faster by mapping the optimal route through the aisles. Walmart’s curbside grocery-pickup service is now in 2,100 stores and should expand to another 1,000 this year. It’s helped boost grocery sales and was the focus of a recent television ad that aired during the Golden Globe awards, featuring famous cars like the Batmobile and the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future.
Walmart’s recruitment will expand its battle against Amazon to capture the best talent beyond technology hotbeds like Sunnyvale, Calif.—where both companies have offices—and into emerging corridors like Northern Virginia, where Walmart has a small, 150-person team in Reston. Amazon recently chose nearby Arlington as one of two homes for its second headquarters.