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This year mega retailer Wal-Mart is doing everything in its power to catch up to Amazon. | Image courtesy: Store No. 8

Jennifer Fleiss joins Wal-Mart to launch Code Eight

Wal-Mart is doing everything in it’s power to catch up to Amazon, including bringing on Rent the Runway alum, Jennifer Fleiss, as a new team member.

Last month, it was announced that the retailer will launch Store No. 8, a Silicon Valley-based incubator for robotics, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence startups.  Fleiss, co-founder and former head of business at Rent the Runway, who left the clothing rental service in March 2016, was appointed CEO of the incubator’s first portfolio company, Code Eight, Reuters reports.

Fleiss will be based in New York and is charged with addressing what’s lacking in modern shopping through the startup’s development of personalized, one-to-one shopping experiences, BOF reports.

“The big mission is to make shopping magical and enjoyable for consumers,” Fleiss told BOF. “There isn’t much magic in online shopping today.”

Instead of taking a piece of equity like traditional incubators, Wal-Mart will own 100 percent of the companies in the incubator and give them access to the retailer’s resources to promote entrepreneurship within the company.

“The mandate is to look at things that are nascent, but have potential to be operationally viable in three, four, five years,” Kate  Finnegan, principal at Store No. 8, said to BOF. “Solutions or experiences that the customer didn’t realise they needed, but can’t live without once they experience them.”

In line with its recent innovation efforts, Wal-Mart acquired Jet.com in 2016 for $3.3 billion, and Marc Lore, founder of Jet.com, is now the company’s CEO of e-commerce. Since Lore has been with Wal-Mart, the retailer has acquired multiple apparel brands including — Modcloth and Shoebuyand it may be looking to acquire Bonobos as well.

By Theresa Meriam

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