Walmart reportedly exploring cashier-less stores

Walmart's Project Kepler is being led by Jet.com's co-founder and CTO. It sounds similar to Amazon's Go, which allows customers to walk out of a store with a product and pay virtually.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor

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Walmart is exploring an in-store shopping experience without checkout lines or cashiers, called Project Kepler, according to Recode. The retail giant is also testing a high-end delivery service, as it looks to compete with Amazon in an e-commerce focused world.

Project Kepler is out of Walmart's startup incubator Store No. 8 and is said to be in its early stages. Recode reported the new in-store experience is being led by Mike Hanrahan, co-founder and former CTO of Jet.com, the company Walmart acquired for $3 billion.

A job listing for Project Kepler said it's looking for a "computer vision engineer" that will be involved in creating a "best-in-class consumer experience in the physical retail space."

The project sounds similar to Amazon's Go in Seattle -- a new brick-and-mortar concept store that replaces cashiers and checkout lines with computer vision and artificial intelligence. Shoppers pick up items what they want, and the "Just Walk Out" tech through Amazon's mobile app adds the item to a virtual cart.

Walmart is also testing a personal shopping service for "busy NYC moms," where products can be ordered for delivery through a text message bot, Recode reported. It seems to be geared to household items, as they can be delivered for free within 24 hours. Other products are delivered within two business days, and returns can be picked up for free from a residence.

Current testers of the delivery service are using it for free, but Walmart is said to introduce a membership fee in the future. Competitor Amazon has also been increasingly focused on building out a delivery network to get products to customers quicker than traditional shipping.

We have reached out to Walmart for comment and will update you if we learn more.

As Recode points out, both Walmart's new projects may not turn into any major consumer-facing products in their current form. However, their tech and use cases could be carried to other Walmart services.

This month, Walmart reiterated a digital push, announcing a change to the company's legal name from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. to Walmart Inc effective Feb. 1, 2018. Walmart said the move is to reflect that shopping doesn't just take place in retail stores, but customers also want to shop online, on their mobile device, or through pickup and delivery.

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