Walmart’s technology investments are starting to pay off — at least a little bit.
For the first time in a decade, the mega retailer’s online revenues are growing faster than its archenemy Amazon.com, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Global Internet sales at Wal-Mart Stores rose by 30 percent for the year ended Jan. 31, exceeding Amazon’s growth rate of 20 percent for the year ended Dec. 31.
But Walmart’s revenues still pale in comparison on an overall basis: Amazon’s online sales totaled $67.8 billion, or more than six times the $10 billion Walmart recorded during the same time periods.
Over the past few years, the big-box retailer has been investing heavily in technology in order to move beyond its physical stores.
Late last night, Walmart made its 12th technology acquisition — its largest to date in terms of headcount. It acquired product search company Adchemy, which will be adding engineering and analytics expertise to its Walmart Global eCommerce team.
In February, Walmart acquired Seattle-based Yumprint, and planned to use the company’s recipe technology for its grocery delivery efforts on Walmart.com and Walmart To Go.
The big box retailer’s tech headquarters are located in Silicon Valley’s San Bruno, Calif., where it’s been loading up on talent for the past three years. It now has 2,100 employees there, including 60 more employees from the Adchemy acquisition, according to Walmart, which said they’ve hired 1,000 employees there over the past year alone.
Some of the work they’ve focused on is product search. After launching a homegrown search engine, for instance, it said it saw a 20 percent increase in search conversion.
“Getting to where we are today has been quite a ride. Several years ago we realized that to scale e-commerce to Walmart’s 245 million weekly customers around the world, we needed world-class talent and agile teams that could develop innovative and scalable technologies,” Walmart said in a blog post. “We set forth to recruit, acquire and integrate the best technologies and talent in Silicon Valley.”
But the real question is, is Silicon Valley talent and technology good enough to threaten the talent Amazon has amassed in Seattle?
Here’s a snapshot of the key acquisitions @WalmartLabs has made over the past three years: