Walmart adding up to 2,000 technology jobs, some in Bentonville

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 2,945 views 

Walmart ATX, the 8,000-square-foot renovated warehouse in downtown Austin, Texas, opened in December as one of two technology hubs to innovate with the retailer’s larger technology labs in Sunnyvale, Calif., and Bentonville.

Walmart Labs Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King has said the retail giant will add to its tech workforce this year, creating around 2,000 full- and part-time jobs. The jobs will be added to Walmart Labs locations in Bentonville, San Bruno and Sunnyvale, Calif., Reston, Va., and Bangalore, India.

In all, the technology arm of Walmart employs about 6,000 people supporting Walmart U.S. brick-and-mortar and e-commerce. Walmart Labs confirmed to Talk Business & Politics the jobs are being added throughout the rest of this year.

The Walmart Labs hiring site lists 410 open positions as of Friday (June 22). There were another 252 open positions at Walmart.com and 32 at SamsClub.com with 48 more open at Jet.com. As of Friday, there were 148 open technology jobs in Bentonville for Walmart Labs, Walmart.com and SamsClub.com, according to the retailer’s hiring site.

King recently told VentureBeat the hiring plans will facilitate Walmart’s expansion of online grocery pickup. He said Walmart plans to continue optimizes the order picking process using machine-learning and other technologies that enhance shopper experiences. Walmart has not said how many of the new jobs will be added in Bentonville.

In fact, the retailer has cut jobs from Walmart Labs in Bentonville over the past two years, while adding headcount in Bangalore. Earlier this year Walmart purged roughly 1,000 jobs and shuttered 64 Sam’s Clubs. Some of the jobs lost were in the Walmart Labs division in Bentonville. In January 2017, around 1,000 jobs were eliminated, including technology jobs in Bentonville and 200 technology jobs in California as e-Commerce CEO Marc Lore restructured the U.S e-Commerce division including Walmart Labs. In April 2016, Walmart eliminated around 300 technology jobs in Bentonville.

Walmart has long said it has multiple locations for its technology arm because it’s difficult to attract enough talent to the home base in Bentonville. Outside of the other large technology offices in California, New Jersey, Virginia and India, the retailer has established smaller tech shops in Austin and Plano, Texas, which opened earlier this year. The small shops are part of the retailer’s Global Business Practices division that work on innovations used in stores.

The Austin unit, named ATX, employs about 60. Walmart ATX set up shop in a renovated, 8,000-square-foot space in December in downtown Austin. A second tech hub opened in Plano in April in a co-working center known as Common Desk. The Plano hub will employ between 50 and 60 when recruitment is completed.

Walmart said it chose Austin as its first technology innovation hub outside Silicon Valley because of its deep tech talent pool in addition to startup support. Plano was chosen for similar reasons and both cities are among those being considered by Amazon for its second corporate headquarters.

Another innovation arm run out of California and New Jersey is known as Store No. 8. This group is innovating for future business opportunities such as the new JetBlack shopping service pilot run by Jennie Fleiss, founder of Rent The Runway. Fleiss, who joined Walmart in April, works in the New Jersey hub and lives in New York.

Local technology advocates say it makes sense for Walmart to have multiple locations for its growing technology arm. Mike Harvey, chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, recently told Talk Business & Politics one of his biggest concerns was that many technology jobs can be done remotely. He said as J.B. Hunt and other employers like CaseStack expand their technology bases in Northwest Arkansas, competition for talent is already tight.