By the end of 2018, Walmart will add more than 2,000 employees to its tech department, reports VentureBeat. The new hires are in addition to the retailer's 6,000 existing technologists.
Walmart is looking for to fill roles in data science, engineering and product management, with many of the positions within its Walmart Labs. The expansion in technologists is in response to Walmart's online grocery pickup offerings, Walmart Labs CTO Jeremy King told VentureBeat.
The order and pickup grocery service presents "fascinating machine learning problems," said King. Algorithms are needed to better streamline grocery pickups, which includes creating a more efficient "real-time inventory management" system that can set Walmart apart from competitors.
King told VentureBeat that Walmart faces unique hiring challenges because potential hires don't consider the retailer to be a tech company. The same is the case for many companies known in their respective industries outside of technology. But every company is reliant on tech, especially when one of their biggest competitors is Amazon, like Walmart.
Walmart confronted Amazon with its acquisition of Jet.com in 2016 and has since made strides in its technological standing in the retail space. In the time since, Walmart has become more mobile accessible for customers by adding store maps, list features and return solutions in its app.
But AI is also becoming a backbone for "concierge shopping" services, Jetblack, which came out of Walmart's Store No. 8 incubator and creates a more personal level of of customer understanding and needs. Once the service has a well-rounded understanding of a customer, it can begin offering recommendations.
The foundation of Jetblack is a combination of artificial and human intelligence. The service was primarily for higher-end retailers, though its use and subscription could help elevate Walmart above its e-commerce competitors.