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Walmart is building a new health venture through its incubation arm Store No. 8 that it’s hoping will change the way customers shop, Business Insider has learned. 

Store No.8 “incubates companies with the potential to transform the future of commerce,” according to its site. Its projects, which operate as startups that have access to Walmart’s funding and resources, focus on the company’s core business and shoppers. 

For example, the group acquired Aspectiva, an AI startup, in February 2019. Aspectiva analyzes customer reviews and boosts the search experience on Walmart.com, among other things. 

The new venture, which has not been previously reported, will build programs that allow shoppers to make healthier choices based on their own shopping data, a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who was not authorized to speak to the press, told Business Insider. 

A spokesperson for Walmart declined to comment on the matter.

Read more: Lowe’s exec says shoppers’ continued focus on ‘self-care’ will serve as catalyst for home improvement sales in a post-pandemic world

In recent years, retailers have been blending their digital and physical services in an effort to stay relevant despite the rise of online shopping. In September, Walmart unveiled a membership program with free deliveries and began redesigning more than 200 stores to work with its mobile app. It’s experimented with technology like driverless trucks and drones for deliveries, and TikTok for live shopping options.

Healthcare’s become an important piece of this “omnichannel” vision. Walmart is investing in clinics, pharmacies, insurance services, and other health bets meant to generate new kinds of revenue and keep relationships with customers, while ideally cutting down on the soaring cost of care. But the company’s been in the drugs business for a while. It’s the fourth largest pharmacy as of 2019, by prescription revenue, according to the Drug Channels Institute.

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Read more: A group backed by huge employers like Walmart, Lowe’s, and Microsoft is working on a new initiative to lower healthcare costs

Walmart is betting that data can drive shoppers’ choices

Walmart’s new venture is in an early, exploratory stage, and it doesn’t have a name yet. Executives aren’t yet sure how it will mesh with Walmart’s other health-oriented services, the person said.

But it’s looking for a CEO who’s worked with clinicians and has a track record of leading health analytics and data science teams combining various forms of health data — pharmacy, claims, clinical — to uncover “new insights,” according to a job description for the role seen by Business Insider.

The job posting also said that the startup, described as a “stealth health data analytics initiative,” will work closely with the company’s Health & Wellness division, which encompasses clinics and pharmacies.

Read more: Walmart plans to launch 22 additional health clinics in its supercenters

“The US supercenter is a great asset and we’re finding new ways to leverage it,” Brett Biggs, Walmart’s chief financial officer, said during an earnings call in 2019. Earlier that year, the company …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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